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Updated: May 20th, 2011 11:39pm
Twins Daily: Ninth-inning rally comes up just short in loss to D-Backs

Twins Daily: Ninth-inning rally comes up just short in loss to D-Backs

by Phil Mackey
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Despite a late-inning offensive rally, the Minnesota Twins were unable to overcome pitchers allowing seven runs between the seventh and eighth innings in an 8-7 interleague loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.

The skinny

What began as a fast-paced pitchers duel turned into a plodding slugfest, of which the Twins eventually came up just short.

Starter Brian Duensing took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but he was unable to hold the narrow lead, and the relievers who followed -- specifically Glen Perkins (one earned run in 2/3 innings) and Kevin Slowey (two earned runs in 2/3 innings) -- couldn't control the damage.

Trailing 8-4 heading into the top of the ninth, the Twins rallied to make things interesting. Danny Valencia hit a one-out solo homer off Juan Gutierrez to cut the lead to three, Delmon Young reached on an infield single and Drew Butera mashed a rare double to score Young.

Right-hander David Hernandez then issued three straight walks to Matt Tolbert, Denard Span and Trevor Plouffe. The final free pass drove home Butera to cut the lead to 8-7.

That was it for the Twins, however, as side-winding lefty Joe Paterson came in and struck out Jason Kubel before inducing a game-ending groundball by Justin Morneau.

Turning point

Stephen Drew's solo home run off Duensing to lead off the top of the seventh inning tied the game at 2-2, and the flood gates opened from there.

Three batters later, Xavier Nady singled home the go-ahead run with a flare to left, chasing Duensing from the game. Perkins then came in and gave up a two-out, three-run double to Ryan Roberts that gave Arizona a 6-2 lead.

The Twins were forced to play catch-up from that point on.

Numbers game

5: Home runs for Michael Cuddyer this season, which leads the team. Cuddyer's solo blast in the second inning gave the Twins a 1-0 lead.

3: Home runs for Trevor Plouffe after his solo blast in the sixth inning, which temporarily gave the Twins a 2-1 lead.

12: Runs scored by both teams combined from the seventh inning on.

17: Interleague games remaining for the Twins.

Health report

• LHP Jose Mijares (strained left elbow) will begin a throwing program on Saturday, according to the Star Tribune.

• DH Jim Thome (strained oblique) and OF Jason Repko (strained quad) are still scheduled to rejoin the team in Minnesota on Monday.

On deck

Arizona's originally scheduled starter for Saturday's game (9:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) was Armando Galarraga, but he was designated for assignment on Thursday after posting a 5.91 ERA in eight starts.

Instead, right-hander Micah Owings (0-0, 0.00) will make his 2011 debut against right-hander Scott Baker (2-3, 3.99), who has already allowed nine home runs in just 49 2/3 innings.

Owings began his career in Arizona in 2007 and 2008 before pitching in 28 games for the Cincinnati Reds in 2009 and 2010. He owns a 5.11 career ERA with 296 strikeouts to 180 walks in 410 1/3 innings. Most impressively, however, is Owings' .293/.323/.538 career batting line with nine home runs in 198 plate appearances.

Coming up

• Sunday: at Arizona, 3:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (3-5, 6.12) vs. RHP Daniel Hudson (4-5, 4.03).
• 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).

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd