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Updated: June 12th, 2010 8:59pm
Suicide squeeze in ninth lifts Braves over Twins 3-2

Suicide squeeze in ninth lifts Braves over Twins 3-2

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- There wasn't much Jose Mijares could do.

By the time he realized Atlanta Braves speedster Gregor Blanco had taken off running, the fastball was on its way and Brooks Conrad was dropping the suicide-squeeze bunt that beat the Minnesta Twins 3-2 on Saturday night at Target Field.

"I can't see," said Mijares, whose left-handed set had his back to Blanco. "It was a perfect squeeze."

Mijares fielded the ball on the third-base side and lost control as he tried to transfer it from his glove to his throwing hand, but he had no chance to get Blanco anyway.

Conrad swung and missed at Mijares' first pitch before dropping the bunt on 0-1. With runners on first and third and one out in a tie game, the Twins were playing double-play depth in middle and the corners in -- just not nearly far enough to make a difference.

"We covered just about everything," Gardenhire said. "The squeeze is going to be the squeeze. If you get a pitch to do it on, you're going to get it down. It's going to be successful."

Just like that, the Braves (36-27) stole a National League-type win and earned a shot to take the series in this interleague matchup of division leaders on Sunday.

The Twins (36-26) had their chances to break the tie -- most notable, in the eighth inning, when Justin Morneau flew out to the warning track in right field for the second out and, after Michael Cuddyer walked to load the bases, sidewinding right-hander Jonny Venters struck out Jason Kubel swinging with a 3-2 fastball.

Brendan Harris' one-out single gave the Twins life in the bottom of the ninth, too. But pinch hitter Jim Thome grounded into a fielder's choice, and Denard Span rolled out to second base to end it.

"We had a couple opportunities to get a big hit and just didn't come through," Gardenhire said.

It squandered a good start from Nick Blackburn, who bounced back from a pair of rough outings to go seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out five with two walks.

Delmon Young's RBI single in the second inning provided the game's only run until the Braves scored twice in the fifth. Melky Cabrera blasted a one-out homer to right field, and then Martin Prado and Jason Heyward ripped back-to-back doubles to put Atlanta in front 2-1.

The Twins knotted the score on Joe Mauer's RBI double in the sixth but never regained the lead.

Instead, it was the Braves who took advantage of the one-out walk Matt Guerrier issued to Blanco -- the No. 9 hitter -- on a Prado hit-and-run single and then Conrad's squeeze.

Kevin Slowey (7-3, 3.45 ERA) will start Sunday's series finale against fellow right-hander Kris Medlen (3-1, 3.21).

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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