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Updated: September 21st, 2011 9:58pm
Twins Daily: Kevin Slowey takes no-no into sixth, but M's storm back

Twins Daily: Kevin Slowey takes no-no into sixth, but M's storm back

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning, Kevin Slowey ran straight into a wall as the Seattle Mariners came from behind to beat the Minnesota Twins 5-4 at Target Field on Wednesday.

The skinny

Slowey barely appeared to break a sweat through the first five-plus innings, mowing down all but one Seattle hitter -- the lone blemish came on an error by shortstop Trevor Plouffe.

But things took a sharp turn with two outs in the sixth, starting with an infield single by Ichiro to break up the no-no. Kyle Seager added a double on the very next pitch to wipe away the shutout bid as well, and Dustin Ackley followed with an RBI double to tie the game at 2-2.

In the seventh, Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo each singled to start the frame, and three batters later Trayvon Robinson delivered a two-out, two-RBI single to put Seattle up 4-2.

"He had a chance to get out of the inning," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We were trying to give him every opportunity. The young man's been battling, and you hope to have an opportunity to get a win, so we left him out there."

But that was it for Slowey, who wound up being yanked for Phil Dumatrait. Ichiro welcomed the left-hander with a liner that skipped by the diving glove of right-fielder Joe Benson, scoring Robinson and closing the book on Slowey's line -- 6 2/3 innings, five earned runs, six hits, six strikeouts and zero walks.

"I left a couple of balls up just enough, and that was kind of the difference there in the sixth and seventh," Slowey said. "They hit some balls hard early in the game too, they just happened to be right at guys."

The Twins scored single runs in the first, fourth and eighth on an RBI single by Chris Parmelee, an RBI double by Joe Benson and an RBI single by Brian Dinkelman.

And for the second straight night, the Twins rallied in the ninth off closer Brandon League -- this time with an RBI single by Plouffe -- but the right-hander pitched out of trouble to eventually close the door.

In what will likely be his final start of the season, Mariners' promising young right-hander Michael Pineda went four innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out two and threw 81 pitches.

With the loss, the Twins (59-95) must now go 4-4 over their final eight games to avoid losing 100 for only the second time in team history.

Turning point

Ichiro's infield single broke up the no-hitter, but it was Seager's double immediately after that swung the momentum -- especially considering Slowey's propensity to struggle in the middle innings.

Throughout his career, Slowey's ERA from the fourth through sixth innings (5.29) is more than one full run higher than his ERA from the first through third innings (4.09).

Numbers game

11: Consecutive losses for the Twins.

0: Runs scored by the Twins in the bottom of the fifth inning despite loading the bases with nobody out. Plouffe, who had three hits in the game, swung at a 2-0 pitch and bounced into a double play to help kill the rally. "I'll tell you the same thing I said (Tuesday) night with the Micahel Cuddyer at-bat," Gardenhire said, referring to Cuddyer's strikeout which helped kill a bases-loaded, no out rally in the ninth. "I thought Michael handled himself very well (after the game). You can ask Trevor Plouffe about that at-bat. I think we all saw what was going on. Six straight balls, not really close, and you swing 2-0. Just ask him about that, what his thought process was. Those are the types of things you have to learn from. Those cost you ballgames. That guy was in trouble and we took him right out of it." Plouffe responded by saying, "In hindsight I would have taken that at-bat a different way. He walked Danny on four pitches and got 2-0 to me, and in my mind I said I need to zone in on the perfect pitch, and I didn't get the perfect pitch. I was trying to be aggressive."

3: Groundouts for Denard Span, who went 0-for-3 in his first game since Aug. 13. Span was replaced, as planned, in the fifth inning by Rene Tosoni. "Overall I felt good," Span said. "Definitely, right before the game, I said I was nervous and all those crazy feelings, but now that it's over with I feel a lot better than I did before the game."

1: Error made by shortstop Plouffe, who bobbled a backhanded play on a ball hit by Ichiro.

1: Inning pitched by Scott Baker, who appeared in his first game since Aug. 8. Sidelined with elbow discomfort, Baker pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with help from an incredible, running catch by Ben Revere on the warning track in center field.

85: The number of games in which the Twins have not hit a home run this season.

3,025,078: Attendance at Target Field so far this season, marking the third season in club history the Twins have drawn at least 3 million fans (2010, 1988).

Overheard

"It's like we're watching the fate of Sisyphus himself. You just get to the top of that hill and just can't seem to figure it out, so it's been pretty tough."
-- Slowey

Health report

• OF Jason Repko (concussion) is still feeling a bit fuzzy and will likely sit out the rest of the season.

On deck

The series concludes with a matinee game Thursday (12:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) as right-hander Anthony Swarzak (3-7, 4.52) takes on right-hander Blake Beavan (5-5, 3.92).

Swarzak was pelted in his last outing, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and a walk in only 1 2/3 innings against the Indians. Swarzak will almost certainly be in the mix heading into spring training for a starting rotation slot, so a strong finish will only help his case.

Beavan, the 17th overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Rangers, held his former squad to zero earned runs on only four hits in eight innings in his last outing. Beavan has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 13 starts this season.

Coming up

• Friday: @ Indians, 6:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (8-13, 4.40) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (12-10, 3.15)
• Saturday: @ Indians, 12:05 p.m. LHP Scott Diamond (1-5, 4.81) vs. LHP David Huff (2-6, 4.20)
• Saturday: @ Indians, 6:05 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (9-9, 4.77) vs. TBD
• Sunday: @ Indians, 12:05 p.m. RHP Liam Hendriks (0-2, 6.23) vs. TBD

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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