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Updated: September 7th, 2012 10:32pm
Winless streak continues for Hendriks, who can't hold onto big lead

Winless streak continues for Hendriks, who can't hold onto big lead

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Liam Hendriks, still in search of his first major league win, was unable to take advantage of being gifted another 4-0 lead as he, and the Minnesota Twins, fell 7-6 to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

The skinny

Hendriks entered the top of the fifth inning with a 4-2 lead, having thrown roughly 80 pitches. All he needed to do was record three outs before the Indians scored two runs -- and stay under 110 pitches or so -- and he would be in line for his first career major league win.

The inning started poorly when Jack Hannahan belted a ringing double off the scoreboard in right-center field. Shin-Soo Choo followed by dribbling an eight-hop single up the middle, between defenders, to drive home Hannahan.

Jason Kipnis then squirted a jam-shot blooper just inside the third-base line for a double, putting runners in scoring position, still nobody out.

After a visit from pitching coach Rick Anderson, Hendriks got Asdrubal Cabrera to pop out, then got Carlos Santana to bounce into a fielder's choice, with first baseman Justin Morneau throwing home to get Choo.

But following an intentional walk to Michael Brantley, Hendriks saw his first major-league win slip away in slow motion as Russ Canzler managed to keep an 80-foot, slow roller just inside the third-base chalk line, allowing Kipnis to score the tying run.

Hendriks finally got out of the inning on his 108th pitch -- a Casey Kotchman groundout, but an inefficient outing, and some bad luck, kept him winless.

"I give up a double to lead off the inning on a low changeup and he put a good swing on it," Hendriks said. "It just snowballed from there. I threw some good pitches and broke a couple of bats. I got some weak contact on the ball just not exactly the way we want."

The groundball by Canzler initially appeared to be rolling foul, and if not foul, right to third baseman Trevor Plouffe for the final out of the inning. Neither scenario came to fruition.

"Both of those thoughts were actually running through my head," Hendriks said. "I'm like, 'OK, weak contact, we're out of it. Going into the bottom of the fifth with a 4-3 lead.' He just hit it in the perfect spot at the perfect pace. There's just nothing you can do about it. When Plouffe first picked it up, I thought he had a chance. I came inside and looked at the video and was like, 'No. There was no way of him making that play.' It's just frustrating to throw a good pitch, get some weak contact and the guy get an RBI base hit out of it."

Hendriks was also granted a 4-0 lead in his last start, but he was unable to pitch out of the fourth inning against the Royals.

Offensively, the Twins scored first on a sac fly by Chris Parmelee in the second inning. A two-RBI double by Josh Willingham made it 3-0 in the third, and a sac fly by Morneau shortly after put the Twins up 4-0.

Willingham drove in Joe Mauer in the eighth with a double down the left-field line, cutting the lead to 7-5.

The Twins scored once more in the ninth when Trevor Plouffe, after reaching on a bloop double, came home on a groundout by Ben Revere.

Turning point

Despite Hendriks missing out on his first major league win yet again, the game was still up for grabs heading into the seventh inning.

But the wheels quickly came off for the Twins bullpen.

The inning started with a walk issued to Kipnis by left-hander Tyler Robertson. Shortly after, Robertson had Kipnis picked off, but Morneau's throw to second base bounced off the glove of shortstop Pedro Florimon. Robertson then walked Cabrera.

Two batters later, Brantley singled home the go-ahead run off Alex Burnett. Canzler reached on an infield single to shortstop that Florimon appeared to misplay, loading the bases. The next batter, Kotchman, hit a slow roller down the first-base line that landed in no-man's land, allowing a run to score and everyone to reach safely.

Burnett then walked pinch-hitter Cord Phelps to push the Indians' seventh run across.

"We missed plays pretty much all around the infield, we walked a lot of people, and just not a very good ballgame by us," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We kept competing, had chances there at the end, got within one run, but that really honestly should have been our ballgame. ...

"Lots of silly little plays out there that we're supposed to make, and we just didn't make them. turns in we give them runs, we end up fighting back and doesn't work out, we come up short again."

Numbers game

16: Career starts without a victory for Hendriks. Gardenhire conceded Hendriks did run into some bad luck in the fifth inning, but that bad luck didn't tell the whole story. "He threw (108) pitches in five innings, he didn't attack the strike zone, and I'm just guessing but it sure looked like a lot of breaking balls to me," Gardenhire said. "Flipping the ball. He didn't attack, he didn't pound the strike zone. you get a lead, you have to go attack. You put men on base out there, they make contact, and sure things fall in there, they bloop them in there and sure he got a little unlucky, but (108) pitches in five innings, there's no way around it -- that's too many pitches. The pace of the game was slow. He's gotta do better than that. If he wants to get a win in this league, you have to pitch better than that. You have to go attack hitters. If they beat you, make them beat you swinging, not putting guys on, not going 3-2 counts with every hitter, and that's what Liam has to understand here. That's what he's done in the minor leagues. He did it one start up here, but he hasn't been able to do it consistently."

101: RBIs for Willingham, which marks a career high

17: The number of different Twins players who have tallied 100 RBIs in a season

Health report

• RHP Carl Pavano (shoulder) talked extensively about his future on Friday.

• OF Denard Span (collarbone) is eligible to come off the disabled list early next week. He took swings in the batting cage on Friday and hopes to take batting practice outdoors on Saturday. "I feel better than I did the last time I saw you guys six or seven days ago," Span said. "So we'll go from there. ... The next couple days will tell me." He added, "The tale will tell itself once I get into a game. Even before, I was put on the DL, that was the main time when I felt discomfort for the most part was during game situations and game speed. So I'm being optimistic I'll be right."

• RHP Matt Capps (shoulder) played catch from 120 feet on Friday and still hopes to pitch in a game before the end of September.

On deck

Saturday: vs. Indians, 6:40 p.m. RHP Cole De Vries (4-5, 4.41) vs. RHP Zach McAllister (5-6, 4.26)
Sunday: vs. Indians, 1:10 p.m. RHP Esmerling Vasquez (0-1, 7.94) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (1-3, 4.79)
Monday: vs. Indians, 7:10 p.m. RHP Samuel Deduno (5-3, 3.66) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (11-12, 4.84)

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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