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Updated: June 10th, 2012 4:05pm
Dempster cools off hot Twins offense, Liriano sputters out in loss

Dempster cools off hot Twins offense, Liriano sputters out in loss

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Dominated by Ryan Dempster, the Minnesota Twins were unable to complete a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs on Sunday at Target Field.

The skinny

The Twins offense has been sizzling lately, but Cubs right-hander Dempster delivered a bucket of cold water on Sunday in Chicago's 8-2 victory.

Dempster, who entered the game with a 2.59 ERA, held the Twins scoreless on four hits in eight innings, striking out six and walking only one.

After reaching base via hit or walk a combined 43 times in Friday and Saturday's games, the Twins reached only seven times via walk or hit on Sunday.

"Not a good day for us," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Basically the story was Dempster over there. He pretty much shut us down. An assortment of pitches. We couldn't even figure out what one was. Everybody kept asking as he was jumping on us. He really threw the ball very well and shut our offense down."

Francisco Liriano looked much sharper than his line indicated -- four earned runs on four hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. Liriano struck out six and induced 14 whiffs on 40 swings (35%) and coasted through the middle innings after allowing an RBI double to Alfonso Soriano in the first.

But the Cubs touched him for three runs in the top of the sixth inning, courtesy of two walks (one intentional to Soriano), doubles by Starlin Castro and Joe Mather and a wild pitch that led to a run.

Despite the rough inning Liriano said, "Everything's getting better," Liriano said. "I've been locating pitches better. I think I'm throwing more strikes, making better pitches than before and just getting ahead in the count better. ... That's the good thing about it."

The Twins threatened in the bottom of the seventh when Trevor Plouffe led off by beating out a bunt single. Two batters later, with Plouffe on second base and one out, Drew Butera hit a chopper to the backhand side of shortstop Starlin Castro, who had the ball deflect off his glove into shallow left field. Third base coach Steve Liddle waved Plouffe around third, but Castro's throw home made it in plenty of time.

The Cubs tacked on two more in the eighth off Jared Burton on a sac fly by Jeff Baker and an RBI single by Darwin Barney. They also added two more in the ninth off Anthony Swarzak on a two-RBI double by David DeJesus.

A sac fly by Ryan Doumit in the ninth off James Russell broke up the shutout. Jamey Carroll added an RBI double shortly after.

Turning point

The leadoff walk issued by Liriano to Reed Johnson in the sixth inning set the table for the Cubs to put up a crooked number.

"Every time I walk a guy it seems like he scores," Liriano said.

Numbers game

4: Consecutive series victories for the Twins.

28-11: The Twins' record in interleague games since 2006.

3: Strikeouts for Joe Mauer, which marks just the fourth time in his career he has struck out three times or more in a game.

Health report

Joe Mauer said he will play through some discomfort with his bruised thumb. "It's good enough, "Mauer said. "It's pretty sore, but it's good to get back into the line-up after last night."

On deck

Monday: Off day
Tuesday: vs. Phillies, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (2-4, 7.75) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (2-5, 4.44)
Wednesday: vs. Phillies, 7:10 p.m. RHP P.J. Walters (2-1, 4.42) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (8-3, 2.93)

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd