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Updated: April 29th, 2012 4:13pm
Powered by Josh Willingham and Danny Valencia, Twins snap 6-game skid

Powered by Josh Willingham and Danny Valencia, Twins snap 6-game skid

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins snapped a six-game losing streak on Sunday with a 7-4 win over the Kansas City Royals. Jason Marquis' quality start and Josh Willingham's powerful bat paved the way.

The skinny

In 2011, Bruce Chen held the Twins to seven runs in 26 1/3 innings (2.39 ERA), including 16 scoreless innings over two September outings.

There was no such mastery for the soft-tossing lefty on Sunday.

The Twins jumped on Chen for four runs in the first inning, courtesy of RBI singles by Joe Mauer and Danny Valencia and an RBI triple by Willingham.

Chen was chased after just 2 2/3 innings. The Twins touched him up for six earned runs on six hits and two walks.

In his first game back from a three-day paternity leave, Willingham finished a home run shy of the cycle, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Valencia tallied three hits in four at-bats as well, driving in two. Ryan Doumit doubled home a run and drove in another on a sac fly.

When Willingham came up to the plate for his last at-bat, needing a home run for the cycle, the Target Field crowd gave him a loud ovation.

"It's always cool when you get a positive reaction from the fans. I appreciate it. ...

"It's been a crazy, great few days, and I came in here today, didn't really know what to expect as far as my timing and stuff like that, so I just tried to keep it simple, and it worked out for us."

Marquis allowed three earned runs on six hits in six innings, striking out one and walking nobody. He recorded 10 groundouts to three fly-ball outs.

Marquis' performance marked just the fourth quality start of the season for a Twins starter.

"You just try to keep your team in the game," Marquis said. "Obviously them putting four runs up early in the game definitely helped. The offense has been doing a good job, so hopefully we all can get on the same page at the same time, instead of the offense doing well one game and pitching the next. We've just got to get on the same page and I think good things will happen."

Jared Burton and Glen Perkins pitched scoreless innings in relief. Matt Capps allowed a run on a bloop single by Alcides Escobar.

Turning point

A four-run first inning provided some nice cushion, but by no means was it safe considering how poorly Twins starters have pitched so far this season.

That's why the two runs scored by the Twins in the bottom of the third -- fueled by Willingham's double, Valencia's triple and a sac fly by Doumit -- made such a difference.

"We thought we could score some runs and we've scored runs," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're still not clicking on all cylinders, especially with runners in scoring position, but we're scoring enough runs. If we'd pitch up to what we've done offensively we'd be in a little bit better shape. But we've kind of scuffled through our rotation trying to get healthy and trying to get back on the field.

"But our offense can score. We feel really good in the dugout when we're swinging. And that's a good feeling, knowing that you can score some runs."

Numbers game

10: Pickoff attempts by Chen in the first inning with Span on first base. "With most lefties, sometimes you (run) on first move," Span said. "But with him I know not to go first move. There's been times when he's picked me off when he'll throw over three times, and I'll be like, 'There's no way he's throwing over four times.' You see what he did today. He doesn't care about the crowd booing or anything like that."

19: Consecutive games with a walk or a hit for Willingham to start the season.

Health report

• 1B Chris Parmelee (black eye from fastball to helmet) was available Sunday but did not play.

On deck

Monday: @ Angels, 9:05 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (0-2, 7.53) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (2-2, 2.42).
Tuesday: @ Angels, 9:05 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (0-3, 11.02) vs. Jerome Williams (1-1, 5.51).
Wednesday: @ Angels, 9:05 p.m. RHP Liam Hendriks (0-1, 6.89) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (3-0, 2.02).

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