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Updated: August 30th, 2012 3:23pm
Josh Willingham's error outweighs late home run in loss to Mariners

Josh Willingham's error outweighs late home run in loss to Mariners

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Willingham's error helped lead to three runs in the sixth inning, and his two-run homer in the eighth wasn't quite enough to make up for it as the Minnesota Twins fell 5-4 to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday at Target Field.

The skinny

Thursday marked another tough outing for Duensing, who was charged with four runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks while striking out three in 5 1/3 innings. Duensing left with one out in the sixth inning after loading the bases with nobody out and allowing a sac fly to tie the game at 2-2.

Reliever Casey Fien entered and induced a pop-up to left field off the bat of Jesus Montero, but Willingham, moving to his left, dropped the ball, allowing Dustin Ackley to score from third base.

Three batters later, Trayvon Robinson delivered a two-RBI single to stretch the lead to 5-2.

Willingham attempted to make amends when he cut the lead to 5-4 with a two-out blast in the bottom of the eighth off righty Stephen Pryor. Justin Morneau followed with a deep fly ball to right-center, but the ball died on the warning track in front of the scoreboard.

The Twins scored their first two runs in the first inning on an RBI single by Alexi Casilla and a sac fly by Morneau.

Mariners starter Blake Beavan pitched seven innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out one.

Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen walked Ryan Doumit and Trevor Plouffe in the ninth inning, but he was able to strike out Pedro Florimon and got Ben Revere to bounce out to end the game.

Turning point

The dropped pop-up by Willingham opened the gates for Seattle to post a crooked number in the sixth.

It's possible Ackley would have scored from third base on a sac fly even if Willingham caught the ball, but the lead would have been 3-2 with two outs.

Since 2010, Willingham's -6.3 Ultimate Zone Rating ranks 50th among 62 qualified outfielders.

Numbers game

2-8: The Twins' record against Seattle this season

33: Home runs for Willingham

31: Stolen bases for Revere, who swiped second base in the first inning

.406: Joe Mauer's on-base percentage after going 1-for-3 with a single and a walk. That mark ranks him second in the American League

Health report

OF Denard Span (collarbone) remains day-to-day.

On deck

Friday: @ Royals, 7:10 p.m. RHP Cole De Vries (3-5, 4.68) vs. LHP Will Smith (4-6, 5.55)
Saturday: @ Royals, 6:10 p.m. RHP Liam Hendriks (0-7, 6.02) vs. RHP Luke Hochevar (7-12, 4.93)
Sunday: @ Royals, 1:10 p.m. TBA vs. RHP Luis Mendoza (7-9, 4.51)

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