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Updated: June 17th, 2010 2:31pm
Twins' bats muffled by Ubaldo Jimenez in 5-1 loss

Twins' bats muffled by Ubaldo Jimenez in 5-1 loss

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- It was billed as an epic showdown between two of the best pitchers in baseball, but Thursday's matinee matchup between Francisco Liriano and Ubaldo Jimenez quickly turned into a game of catch-up -- one in which the Minnesota Twins couldn't keep up and lost to the Colorado Rockies 5-1.

Colorado jumped on Liriano in the first inning. After Todd Helton reached with a one-out single, Troy Tulowitzki ripped an RBI triple past Denard Span in center. Liriano then hit Ryan Spilborghs with a pitch, and Miguel Olivo and Melvin Mora followed with RBI singles to put the Rockies up 3-0.

"The story was that first inning, when Frankie was just overthrowing and misfiring," Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He calmed down a little bit. I think he might have been a little bit over-amped in the matchup, but once he calmed down, after that, he threw the ball great."

Liriano (6-4, 2.98 ERA) eventually settled down and completed seven innings, allowing no more runs and only one more hit while piling up six strikeouts.

"A little too excited," Liriano said of the first inning. "Trying to overthrow, I think. It was hot (84 degrees at game time) out there too. But I was missing my spots. ... That's what you get when you miss your spots -- you get hurt."

Jimenez (13-1, 1.15) was masterful almost the entire day, throwing eight innings and allowing only one earned run on eight hits and two walks. He also struck out four and at one point induced three consecutive inning-ending double plays.

"You get behind three runs to a pitcher like that, and he knows what to do with it," Gardenhire said. "He's got great stuff, and he made it pretty tough on us."

Jimenez has now allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his 14 starts this season.

Spilborghs added insurance for the Rockies with a two-run blast in the eighth inning off Alex Burnett that gave Colorado a 5-1 lead. Drew Butera provided the lone offensive highlight for the Twins with a line-drive RBI single off Jimenez in the eighth, scoring Brendan Harris from second.

Joe Mauer, who did not start, came on to pinch hit with runners on first and second in the eighth, but he lined into an inning-ending double play (4-3) with the Twins trailing 5-1.

The Twins finished this nine-game homestand 5-4, and they'll begin a nine-game road trip in Philadelphia on Friday night. Nick Blackburn (6-3, 4.96) is scheduled to face fellow right-hander Joe Blanton (1-5, 7.28) in the series opener.

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