Twins look for offensive spark after rough stretch

Shutout against Cubs on Sunday marks ninth loss in past 13 games

Twins look for offensive spark after rough stretch

MINNEAPOLIS -- It looked like the Twins might have turned a corner Friday. They unleashed seven extra-base hits on a night when they also scored seven runs. That came after a week during which runs didn't come especially easily.

"We're over struggling. We don't want to do that anymore. We want to score some runs," third baseman Trevor Plouffe said after the game.

But after scoring just one run in a loss to the Cubs on Saturday, the Twins ran into a masterful Jake Arrieta, who pitched a shutout in Minnesota's 8-0 loss. The result marked the team's fifth series loss in its past six sets.

"Good pitching beats good hitting any day," Twins right fielder Torii Hunter said. "I don't care if you're a hot team. What he did today would have shut anybody down. He was locked in. He had poise. He wasn't even laboring in the ninth inning. … I was looking for him to take a deep breath or something, take his hat off, wipe his head. No."

And right now, the Twins aren't exactly a hot team. They've scored just 55 runs in 20 games this month, averaging fewer than three runs a game. They've lost nine of 13, and fell to 7-13 in June after riding timely hitting and solid pitching to a 20-7 May.

The Twins managed just four hits off Arrieta on Sunday, and two of them came in the first inning. At one point, Arrieta sent down 12 in a row before center fielder Byron Buxton picked up his first career hit at Target Field in the eighth.

"We came out and whether he wasn't locked in right away or whatever, we did put some good swings on him early, and he found different ways to start getting ahead from that point forward," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think we kind of backed off the pedal in terms of trying to get after him a little bit."

As was the case Sunday, Hunter was quick to point out that many of the Twins recent losses came against good pitchers.

"St. Louis had good pitching. This series, we had really good pitching. So the last couple days, three out of six days, we played pretty well and we faced some really good pitching," Hunter said.

They'll try to bounce back starting Monday against the White Sox, a team against which the Twins have been successful on offense. They've scored 57 runs in 10 games this season against Chicago, winning seven of those games. Minnesota has also done well against all three starting pitchers it is scheduled to see, including Jeff Samardzija and ace Chris Sale.

"It doesn't get easier. You've just got to keep fighting," Hunter said.

Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.