Twins Daily: Bullpen beaten, beat up in another Arizona comeback
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Another late-inning meltdown on the mound cost the Minnesota Twins in more than one way on Saturday night. Glen Perkins suffered an oblique injury minutes before Kelly Johnson's towering grand slam off of Matt Capps capped a six-run Arizona eighth, and the Diamondbacks completed their second comeback in as many nights for a 9-6 win.
The Twins (15-29) extended their lead to 6-3 in the top of the eighth inning, thanks to Danny Valencia's RBI single and two Arizona errors. Then, everything fell apart.
Joe Nathan returned to the mound after a 1-2-3 seventh inning and gave up a leadoff single to Chris Young. Manager Ron Gardenhire brought on Perkins, who gave up a single to Miguel Montero and pulled himself out of the game with the injury that will land him on the disabled list.
That forced Capps into the game to warm up quickly, and he never appeared to find a rhythm -- nor did he get help from his defense.
Juan Miranda ripped a fastball just over left fielder Delmon Young's head, bringing home two runs and putting the tying run on second base. Gerardo Parra popped up a bunt that Valencia, charging from third on the pitch, couldn't stop quickly enough to keep from landing behind him.
Catcher Drew Butera gunned down the lead runner when Josh Wilson followed with another bunt, and the threat of Young's arm kept Parra from scoring on Ryan Roberts' single to left. But then Capps left a 2-1 fastball over the plate to Johnson, who launched the deathblow high into the right-field bleachers.
Denard Span reached with one out in the top of the ninth on a Roberts throwing error -- the fifth of the game for the Diamondbacks (22-23) -- but J.J. Putz got Trevor Plouffe to fly out and struck out Jason Kubel to close his 11th save.
The Twins had pushed across two runs to extend their lead to 4-1 in the top of the sixth when Butera struck out swinging to end the inning. In the on-deck circle stood Ben Revere, who would have pinch-hit for starting pitcher Scott Baker had Butera kept the frame alive.
Instead, Baker -- who already had thrown 102 pitches -- went back to the mound and gave up consecutive doubles to Stephen Drew and Chris Young. That was it for Baker, and Young ended up scoring on Gerardo Parra's safety squeeze bunt in front of Valencia to cut the Twins' lead to one.
Valencia's beautiful barehand pick-and-throw for the second out kept the damage from getting worse. But the Diamondbacks had put two key runs on the board to keep the game within reach.
2: Home runs hit by the Twins. Valencia pulled one to left-center with two outs in the second, and Kubel launched one down the right-field line to lead off the sixth.
1: Hits for Baker, who yanked a double to left in the third.
5: Consecutive outs Baker recorded on strikeouts in the second and third innings.
7: Strikeouts in the game for Baker, who allowed three earned runs on four hits and walked three in five-plus innings.
4: Consecutive games in which the Twins have scored at least four runs, doubling their previous season high.
28: Runs the Twins have scored in that span, by far their highest total over four games this season.
5: Runners left on base by Plouffe, who struck out three times and finished 0-for-5 -- only his third hitless performance in 11 games this season.
• The Twins placed Perkins on the 15-day disabled list early Sunday morning and recalled LHP Dusty Hughes from Class-AAA Rochester.
In Sunday's series finale (3:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN), left-hander Francisco Liriano (3-6, 6.12) will try to build off of his strong outing on Tuesday, when he struck out nine in seven innings to beat Seattle ace Felix Hernandez. Liriano never has faced the Diamondbacks but has made 11 interleague starts, going 8-3 with a 2.80 ERA.
Arizona will start right-hander Daniel Hudson (4-5, 4.03), a 24-year-old Virginian who pitched parts of the past two seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The Diamondbacks acquired Hudson and minor-league pitcher David Holmberg at the trading deadline last year for pitcher Edwin Jackson. In his only start against the Twins, Hudson allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits in five innings and took the loss on Sept. 21, 2009.
• Monday: vs. Seattle, 7:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.30) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (3-2, 3.39).
• Tuesday: vs. Seattle, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (3-4, 3.40) vs. RHP Doug Fister (2-4, 2.93).
• Wednesday: vs. Seattle, 12:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (2-4, 4.98) vs. TBD.