MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Trout helped the Angels come back from an early five-run deficit as he hit two homers, including a go-ahead grand slam in the second, in an 11-8 win over the Twins on Thursday night at Target Field.
The victory helped the Angels pick up ground in the chase for the second American League Wild Card spot as they moved to 2 1/2 games behind the Astros, who were swept in a four-game series by the AL West-leading Rangers. The Twins, who have lost three straight, are a game ahead of the Angels and 1 1/2 games behind Houston.
Trout was a one-man wrecking crew, going 2-for-3 with five RBIs, three runs and three walks. After the Twins took a 5-0 lead in the first, he helped lead a comeback as part of a six-run second inning keyed by his second grand slam of the year, off A.J. Achter. He later connected on a solo blast off lefty Ryan O'Rourke in the fourth. Trout also made a big play defensively to end the third, as he ran down a line drive to left-center from Aaron Hicks that likely would've brought home two runs.
"There's a lot on his shoulders to be able to do the things that he does," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Trout. "I think one of the biggest things he did tonight was run down that ball that Hicks [hit]. He got a great jump and ran it down in left-center and saved a couple runs."
Trout was one of three Angels to homer, as Taylor Featherston hit a two-run shot for the Angels in the second, while Chris Iannetta crushed a solo shot in the seventh.
The Twins were led offensively by Torii Hunter, who went 2-for-5 with three RBIs against his former team, including a three-run blast off Hector Santiago in the first. Santiago recorded just two outs before coming out of the game, but Twins starter Tommy Milone couldn't hold the lead and went 1 1/3 innings. Hicks added a solo shot in the eighth for Minnesota.
"We have to bounce back from that and let it go," Hunter said. "It's tough to swallow. You jump out early and you have five runs and all heck broke loose after that. I guess you could say we were upset but we tried to show some fight and some push and that's what baseball is all about. You have to keep fighting and keep playing and that's what we did but they just ran away with it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Trout comes up clutch: After Achter fell behind Trout 2-0 in the second inning, Trout connected on a fastball to put an exclamation point on the Angels' six-run comeback. The grand slam was the fourth of his career and his second this season. He added a solo shot in the fourth inning, giving him five multi-homer games this year. In the process, he bested last year's 36 home runs and now has 38 this season. More >
Twins put up five-spot in first: Minnesota jumped all over Santiago early and was helped by an infield pop fly from Brian Dozier that dropped in for an unusual double. Joe Mauer followed with an RBI single before Trevor Plouffe walked to set the stage for Hunter's three-run blast. Eddie Rosario and Kurt Suzuki had back-to-back doubles to cap the scoring.
"After a long night last night it was good to see us get off to a good start," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But it got ugly. We just couldn't contain. It's disappointing to squander a five-run lead right out of the chute like that."
Bullpen holds it down: Scioscia pulled Santiago after two outs, meaning he had to rely heavily on his bullpen to hold the Twins down. It did. The Angels used eight different arms from the bullpen, which gave up three runs in 8 1/3 innings. Mike Morin came in immediately after Santiago and recorded four outs, three of which were strikeouts, and earned the win. Trevor Gott pitched two scoreless innings, giving up just one hit, and closer Huston Street came in to nail down the save.
Chipping away but not enough: The Twins scored a run in both the third and fourth innings, but had the potential to do even more damage. Eduardo Escobar had a two-out RBI single in the third to make it a two-run game but Hicks was robbed of a potential two-run double with Trout's running catch. In the fourth, Minnesota scored on an error from David Freese at third and had two runners in scoring position with two outs, but Rosario lined out on a rocket to right to end the inning. More >
"We kept trying to find ways to inch our way back in it," Molitor said. "But they kept adding on. We'd inch a little closer and then they'd get it right back, so it's tough."
It's embarrassing the way I pitched out there tonight. I put my teammates and my bullpen in a bad position." -- Milone, on giving up five runs in 1 1/3 innings
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With his single in the first inning, Mauer set a career high by reaching base safely in his 37th straight game. It's also the fourth-longest in Twins history, trailing only Bob Allison (42), Harmon Killebrew (40) and Molitor (38).
WHAT'S NEXT Angels:Andrew Heaney gets the ball for the Angels as they take on the Twins on Friday at 5:10 p.m. PT looking for their second consecutive win over the Twins. Heaney gave up no runs in five innings pitched in his last outing, a no-decision. He's 6-3 with a 3.32 ERA on the season.
Twins: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey starts in the second of the four-game series on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Pelfrey has posted a 7.64 ERA over his last four starts, but was better last time out, limiting the Royals to one run over 5 1/3 innings on Sept. 9..
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.
Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.