Twins Daily: Late rally comes up short against Tim Lincecum, Giants
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After one big inning, the Minnesota Twins' bats went silent in San Francisco. Tim Lincecum struck out 12 in seven dominant innings and Brian Wilson survived a scare in the ninth as the Giants held off the Twins 2-1 on Thursday afternoon at AT&T Park.
The Twins (32-41) scored eight runs on nine hits in the first half-inning of this series on Tuesday. Over the 26 innings that followed, they scored only three runs (two earned) on 15 hits and the Giants (41-34) won two in a row to take the series and cool off the hottest team in baseball.
The Twins' only other scoring chance came in the ninth against Wilson, who walked leadoff man Alexi Casilla and then gave up a long double to Michael Cuddyer that dropped on the warning track in left-center field.
Wilson settled down from there, striking out Delmon Young, getting Danny Valencia to line out to left and then inducing a grounder by Luke Hughes that third baseman Pablo Sandoval fielded to his left and chased down Cuddyer with a diving tag to end the game.
Miguel Tejada drove in one Giants run with a groundout in the second inning against Twins left-hander Brian Duensing, who allowed one earned run on six hits in 6 2/3 innings, and Cody Ross' RBI single off of reliever Glen Perkins brought home what proved to be a crucial insurance run in the eighth.
The consecutive losses for the Twins were their first since a four-game skid ended on June 1 and dropped them eight games behind idle Cleveland in the American League Central Division standings.
Young helped kill the Twins' two best scoring opportunities.
In the top of the sixth inning, Lincecum had struck out six consecutive batters before issuing a four-pitch walk to Casilla with two outs, then giving up a broken-bat single to Cuddyer that put two runners on base. Young swung at the first pitch he saw, dribbled it softly in front of home plate and got gunned out at first by Lincecum to end the inning.
In the ninth, another walk to Casilla and Cuddyer's long double cut the Giants' lead in half and put the potential tying run on second base with no outs. Had Young advanced Cuddyer to third base, Valencia's flyout might have been deep enough to bring the run home.
Instead, Young fanned on four pitches, Valencia's out didn't do the Twins any good and Sandoval tagged out Cuddyer for the final out instead of having to throw across the diamond to get Hughes.
12: Consecutive games in which Cuddyer has hit safely.
.476: Cuddyer's batting average (20-for-42) during the streak with three home runs, 11 RBIs, 10 runs and six walks.
0: Hits for Giants 2B Bill Hall in two at-bats with the bases loaded. He hit into a fielder's choice end the fifth inning against Duensing and lined out to left field to end the seventh against RHP Alex Burnett.
2: Twins prospects who will play in the All-Star Futures Game next month. Liam Hendriks will play for the international team and Kyle Gibson for the U.S. team.
• Mauer (sore back) and Nishioka (sore hamstring) were scratched from the lineup on Thursday, but both pinch-hit in the eighth inning and are expected to start on Friday.
• DH Jim Thome (back/quadriceps) is expected to be activated before Friday's game, too.
• CF Denard Span (whiplash/concussion) has been playing catch and could begin hitting as soon as this weekend, head athletic trainer Rick McWane told reporters.
• 1B Justin Morneau (sore left wrist) is scheduled to have his cast removed on Friday.
Five games back in mid-May, the Milwaukee Brewers (41-35) have been in a virtual heat with the St. Louis Cardinals the past two weeks atop the National League Central standings. They've lost three consecutive series, though, going 3-7 against the Chicago Cubs, Boston and Tampa Bay. The Brewers entered Thursday 10th in baseball in scoring (330 runs) and 12th in earned-run average (3.87).
Left-hander Randy Wolf (5-4, 3.15) gets the ball for Friday's series opener (7:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) against the Twins, who were 2-4 in the interleague rivalry last season. Wolf, 34, pitched the first eight seasons of his career with Philadelphia (1999 to 2006), then had four stints with three teams before signing a three-year deal with Milwaukee in December 2009. He has been rock solid over his past seven starts, allowing 12 runs (11 earned) in 36 hits with 32 strikeouts and 14 walks in 45 1/3 innings (2.18 ERA).
The Twins will counter with their own hot starter, Scott Baker (5-4, 3.24), who threw eight shutout innings and struck out 10 in a win over San Diego on Saturday. Over his past five starts, Baker is 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA, 33 strikeouts and only four walks in 37 innings.
• Saturday: at Milwaukee, 6:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (4-6, 4.59) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (8-4, 4.11).
• Sunday: at Milwaukee, 1:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (5-5, 4.05) vs. LHP Chris Narveson (4-5, 4.55).
• Monday: vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (6-5, 3.15) vs. RHP Chad Billingsley (6-6, 4.48).