Twins blow 4-run lead, but rally late to sink Marlins
By Rhett Bollinger and Dan Myers
MINNEAPOLIS -- Trevor Plouffe hit one of three Twins homers before delivering a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning to help Minnesota to a 7-5 win over Miami on Wednesday night at Target Field.
Plouffe left the yard against Marlins lefty Wei-Yen Chen in the third inning, while Joe Mauer connected on a solo blast in the first and Byung Ho Park hit a solo shot of his own to tie the game in the sixth. Plouffe's game-winning hit came against reliever Nick Wittgren with two outs in the seventh, as he doubled off the right-field wall to score Mauer from first. Brian Dozier gave Minnesota an insurance run with an RBI single to score Plouffe.
"Last night and tonight, you'd have to classify as team wins," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The offense picked us up in both games."
Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco was staked to an early four-run lead, but he gave it all back in a four-run fifth. Ichiro Suzuki brought home the first run with an RBI single before Marcell Ozuna added a two-run single and Giancarlo Stanton tied the game with a broken-bat RBI single to center. The Marlins took the lead the next inning on an RBI single from Martin Prado. Nolasco allowed five runs on 11 hits over 5 2/3 innings against his former team, but he didn't factor into the decision.
"I felt like we did a nice job of getting back in the game," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. "That little rally there was good for us. I was proud of that."
Chen, who allowed five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, couldn't hold a short-lived lead in the sixth, and Miami was unable to muster another rally.
"My teammates gave me a lot of support, but I didn't help them get a win," Chen said through an interpreter. "I didn't do a good enough job. Most of the problem is on me."
Six Twins relievers combined to throw 3 1/3 scoreless innings, with Taylor Rogers picking up the win with a scoreless seventh, and Brandon Kintzler getting his first career save. It handed Minnesota the series win after Tuesday's 6-4 victory.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Plouffe, there it is: Plouffe entered the game hitting .170 with one extra-base hit over his previous 14 games, but he came through with his two-run homer in the third and the go-ahead RBI double in the seventh. The homer was Plouffe's first since May 10. It was a good sign from Plouffe, who has been dealing with a knee injury recently, and hasn't got on track offensively this season.
"There is some nagging stuff, but I think I've let that creep into my mind too much," Plouffe said. "During the game, I didn't wear this sleeve I've been wearing on my knee, thinking it would take it off my mind. Who knows if it did, but look what happened. So I won't wear it tomorrow either." More >
Ichiro sparks four-run fifth: Nolasco cruised through the first four innings and retired fifth-inning leadoff man Derek Dietrich on one pitch. But three straight hits, including an RBI single by Ichiro, got Miami on the board. Ichiro had three hits on the night and is just 29 shy of becoming the 30th player in Major League history with 3,000 hits. The Marlins also got two-out singles by Ozuna and Stanton to tie the game at 4. More >
Homer parade continues: The Twins hit four homers in Tuesday's 6-4 win over the Marlins, and hit three more on Wednesday, including Plouffe's two-run shot in the third. Mauer was the first to go deep with a solo blast in the first inning, while Park tied the game with his solo shot in the sixth for his team-leading 11th blast of the year.
"I'm always hesitant to jump on the home run bandwagon, but it's been good to see," Molitor said. "It's been a big part of our offense the last 10 days."
Two hits for Stanton: The last six weeks have been a struggle for Stanton, but the slugging right fielder looks like he could be turning a corner. After hitting three balls hard but going 0-for-5 on Tuesday, Stanton had a pair of singles on Wednesday, his first multi-hit game since May 13.
Stanton nearly had a third hit later in the game, but Twins shortstop Eduardo Nunez made a nice defensive play to take it away. Stanton came up as the potential tying run in the ninth, but struck out swinging to end the game.
"It was a little more exciting than I thought it was going to be. I tried to downplay it because I've pitched the eighth many times. But you can't practice the intensity. It was a lot of fun. Definitely different than the eighth inning." -- Kintzler, on his first career save in his seventh big league season
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins: Miami will try to salvage the final game of a three-game series against the Twins at Target Field on Thursday night at 8:10 p.m. ET. Right-hander Tom Koehler will get the start, hoping to continue his recent stretch of solid play. Koehler has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his past six starts, amassing a 2.87 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings in that span.
Twins: Right-hander Ervin Santana (1-5, 4.50 ERA) is set to start for the Twins in the series finale against the Marlins on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Santana struggled his last time out, allowing five runs in six innings in a loss to the Rays. He's looking for his first win since May 14.