SEATTLE -- Left-hander Pat Dean, making just his second Major League start, outpitched Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on Friday night as the Twins topped Seattle, 7-2, at Safeco Field.
Dean, 27, recorded his first big-league victory as he gave up just four hits and two runs with no walks and eight strikeouts over seven innings. The Twins (13-34) have now won two straight for just the second time this month, thanks to home runs by Miguel Sano and Joe Mauer and a five-run outburst in the third inning against Hernandez.
"He stayed pretty calm," Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki said of Dean. "It was pretty amazing. That's kind of his demeanor, though. He's pretty laid-back, easy going kind of guy, and he pitched his [tail] off tonight. He outpitched Felix." More >
The Mariners still hold a 1 1/2 game lead over Texas in the American League West and remain a half-game behind Boston for the best record in the AL at 28-19, but they are just 10-12 at Safeco.
"That was a clunker," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "We did not play a good ballgame. We got beat, there's not a whole lot more you can say about that. It's disappointing. We had a great crowd and everybody is fired up for a big weekend, but it was just not a good game."
Hernandez (4-4, 2.86 ERA) allowed a season-high six runs on eight hits, with five of those hits and runs coming in the third inning as he suffered his first loss to the Twins since 2011. More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Twins drop a five-spot: Minnesota got to Hernandez in a major way in the third inning. After a leadoff double by Danny Santana, Eduardo Nunez bunted for a single, Brian Dozier doubled in a run to put the Twins up, 2-1, and Mauer added an RBI single. After a walk to Sano, who had homered in the second inning, and a Trevor Plouffe flyout, Robbie Grossman doubled in two more runs and Byung Ho Park pushed the fifth run of the inning across on a fielder's choice.
A couple Guti beauties:Franklin Gutierrez won't get a lot of playing time with Seattle facing four right-handers over the remainder of the homestand, but the Mariners platoon right fielder made the most of his start against the lefty Dean by homering in the first inning and making a nice catch at the top of the wall on an opposite-field drive by Sano in the fifth. Gutierrez's homer, his third of the season, continued his recent uptick as he's now 5-for-13 with two home runs over his past four games to lift his average from .176 to .219.
Dean clamps down: Dean gave up a leadoff triple to Robinson Cano in the bottom of the fourth, and that led to a one-out RBI single by Dae-Ho Lee two batters later. But Dean didn't let the spot of adversity affect him at all. He got the next two batters to end that inning, then pitched perfect baseball in the fifth, sixth and seventh. He recorded strikeouts in four of those 11 consecutive outs and needed only five pitches to negotiate the seventh.
Racking up the K's:Steve Johnson, pitching his eighth game in relief since being called up by the Mariners on May 3, struck out five Twins in a row during his two-inning stint to close out the game. After a leadoff walk to Grossman in the eighth, Johnson set down Park, Suzuki and Santana in order, then opened the ninth by whiffing Nunez and Dozier before walking Mauer. The 28-year-old right-hander ended his night by getting Sano to pop out and now has a 0.90 ERA in with 13 strikeouts in 10 innings of work.
"I thought Steve threw the ball really well," Servais said. "He's got that fastball that has the spin rate and it plays really good up in the zone. Guys see it, but they don't square it. Often times they swing right through it. I was happy for him. He gave us two good innings there with a few punchouts, so it was nice to see."
"It was my fault. I was leaving everything up. The curveball and changeup were up. I didn't have any command of my fastball that inning. It was a bad inning for me." -- Hernandez on the five-run third. .
"I wasn't sure how to manage there at the end. I haven't had a lot of five-run leads." -- Twins manager Paul Molitor
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Hernandez had allowed three runs in 43 innings in five straight wins against the Twins since 2012. He gave up five in the third inning alone in this one.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Twins challenged a pitch call by home plate umpire Mark Wegner in the top of the eighth inning. With an 0-2 count, Minnesota batter Grossman took an inside pitch that came close to hitting Grossman, but Wegner called the pitch a ball. The Twins challenged the call, but the call stood after a review of 1 minute and 20 seconds. Grossman eventually worked a walk.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Minnesota will hand the ball to a pitcher who's quite familiar with Safeco Field. Right-hander Phil Hughes (1-7, 5.55 ERA) is 5-1 with a 0.96 ERA with seven walks and 35 strikeouts in five career starts and two relief appearances in the Seattle ballpark.
Mariners:Wade Miley (5-2, 4.50 ERA) gets the start in Saturday's 7:10 p.m. PT game. It will be the 29-year-old's first time facing the Twins in his six-year Major League career.