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Updated: May 1st, 2011 4:49pm
Twins Daily: Downward spiral continues with sixth straight loss

Twins Daily: Downward spiral continues with sixth straight loss

by Nate Sandell
1500ESPN.com
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A closed-door team meeting couldn't keep things from getting worse for the Minnesota Twins. One day after a nine-run loss had manager Ron Gardenhire, center fielder Denard Span and others addressing a defeated clubhouse, the Twins suffered another blowout on Sunday as the Kansas City Royals completed a series sweep with a 10-3 win, handing the Twins their first six-game losing streak since May 2009.

The skinny

After going 9-17 in April, the Twins had hoped the start of a new month would help snap them out of their losing funk. Instead, May brought more of the same for the Twins.

Starter Carl Pavano struggled to find a rhythm, surrendering seven runs (six earned) in only 5 1/3 innings and taking out his frustration on the dugout wall with a bat after departing.

The right-hander now has an 8.47 ERA in his last three starts. Reliever Dusty Hughes surrendered three more runs in one-third of an inning.

The offense didn't do anything to help matters. Luke Hochevar kept the Twins (9-18) in check, surrendering only three earned runs off five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

The Royals bullpen held strong once again, keeping the Twins off the scoreboard for the third straight game. Twins' batters have combined for just 10 hits in their last 75 at-bats (.133). Justin Morneau's solo home run in the sixth -- his first since suffering a concussion last July -- was the lone bright spot.

Before Sunday, the Twins, who have been outscored 54-14 in their last six games, had not been swept by the Royals (15-13) in a three or four-game series since May 10, 1999. It was also their first time being swept at Kauffman Stadium since 1994.

Turning point

Pavano's downfall came to a head in the fifth inning.

He entered the inning with the Royals leading 2-1. Matt Maier lined a 1-2 pitch from Pavano into left field for a double. Maier advanced to third after Mike Aviles reached safely on a bunt. Alex Gordon hit a sacrifice fly to left, bringing in Maier.

With one out and runners on the corners, Pavano again worked the count on Billy Butler to two strikes. But Butler jumped on a pitch up in the zone, drilling the ball into center for the third of four doubles against Pavano. Butler later scored off of a single by Wilson Betemit for the Royals' third run of the inning.

By the sixth inning, Pavano had nothing left. He gave up two more runs before he was pulled in favor of long reliever Glen Perkins. Pavano's frustrations were put on display once he got back to the dugout when he slammed a bat repeatedly against the wall.

Numbers game

9: Number of games this season the Twins have been outscored by five runs or more.

16: Number of games the Twins were outscored by five runs or more in 2010.

1: Team in the last 43 years has come back to win its division after trailing by nine games or more at the end of April.

Health watch

• 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken left fibula) will begin baseball activities this week, traveling to the Twins' facilities in Fort Myers, Fla., to continue his rehab. There is still no timetable set for his return. In order to have another option, manager Ron Gardenhire said the team plans to have Nishioka take reps at shortstop during his rehab assignment.

• DH Jim Thome sat out for the fifth time in the last six games after feeling tightness in his left oblique this morning.

• OF Jason Repko (left quad) was back in the lineup on Sunday after missing the last five games. He went 1-for-5 in his return.

Overheard

"I'm not accepting it anymore. If you don't run the ball out I'll take you right out of the ballgame. I don't care who you are. That's just the way it's going to be. I'm not going to accept a lot of this stuff... I'm going to find a way. I don't lose as a manager."
-- Gardenhire to 1500 ESPN on Sunday, before the Twins' latest loss

On deck

The Twins get a well-needed day off on Monday before opening a two-game series on the road against the Chicago White Sox.

Coming up

• Tuesday: at Chicago White Sox, 7:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (1-4, 9.13) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (2-3, 5.86).

• Wednesday: at Chicago White Sox, 1:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (1-4, 5.14) vs. John Danks (0-4, 3.92).

• Thursday: Off.

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell
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