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Updated: July 30th, 2010 10:09pm
Capps lock: Matt Capps earns first save as a Twin in 5-3 victory over M's

Capps lock: Matt Capps earns first save as a Twin in 5-3 victory over M's

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Matt Capps converted a save to preserve a 5-3 win over the Braves for the Nationals in Washington D.C. on Thursday night, and he converted a save to preserve a 5-3 win over the Mariners for the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.

Funny how things work at the trade deadline.

Capps, who was acquired by the Twins for Wilson Ramos on Thursday night, arrived to Minneapolis just after noon on Friday, mingled with his new teammates before the game, then converted his 27th save of the season by pitching a scoreless ninth inning. Capps struck out Casey Kotchman swinging for the final out after Chone Figgins reached on a two-out single.

"I was hoping to pitch today no matter what the situation," said Capps, who is elated to join a contender after six years with the Pirates and Nationals. "If we were up by seven or eight, or down, I was hoping to get in there in the ninth and just get my feet wet, and fortunately it was a two-run lead and I was able to go out and execute a couple of pitches and make everybody in here smile."

On his way out to the mound, Capps came out to a standing ovation with Europe's "Final Countdown" blasting through the stadium speakers.

"That was awesome," Capps said about the standing ovation. "It makes you feel pretty good to be wanted, and for the fans here to show it like that was a pretty good feeling."

The Twins jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the second inning when Jim Thome hit a two-run homer into the seats in left field. J.J. Hardy scored on an error by Mariners third baseman Josh Wilson in the third inning, and Alexi Casilla's two-run homer to right field in the fifth -- which was originally ruled a triple, but overturned after a review -- put the Twins up 5-0.

Scott Baker labored for most of the night, but managed to work his way through five innings without allowing a run. In the top of the sixth inning, however, the Mariners were able to string together a double, a single, a stolen base, a walk, and another double to cut the lead to 5-3.

Baker threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs, seven hits and four walks. He threw 86 pitches and struck out two.

Baker hasn't strung together back-to-back quality starts since May 3 and May 8.

The bridge leading up to Capps included Jesse Crain, Jose Mijares and Matt Guerrier, who combined for 2 2/3 innings of one-hit ball.

"That's kind of the way we talked about our bullpen setting up," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We didn't use Rauch, we didn't use a couple other guys too, so it's a good thing. We can go a lot of different ways."

With the victory, the Twins (57-46) improve to 11-4 since the All-Star break, and they move 11 games over .500 for the first time since June 20.

RHP Kevin Slowey (9-5, 4.76) is scheduled to face RHP Felix Hernandez (7-7, 2.86) on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. Listen to the action on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

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