Blackburn earns first win since July

Blackburn earns first win since July

Blackburn earns first win since July
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's no secret that wins have been hard to come by for the Twins this season.

That's why their drama-filled, 7-6, rain-delayed win over the Blue Jays on Friday at Target Field tasted that much sweeter.

Minnesota overcame four homers from Toronto, including two from Jose Bautista, as closer Matt Capps was able to get Bautista to pop up with the tying run on third to preserve just its fourth win over the last 18 games.

"It was a very exciting night around here," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The guys were really into it. We were laughing and joking and that's the way it's supposed to be. It was a tight ballgame, but they were able to enjoy a baseball game, which is nice to see."

It was a tense game all the way until the final out, as Capps picked up his sixth save, but didn't make it easy. He allowed a single to Kelly Johnson, who reached second on a wild pitch before going to third on a groundout from Yunel Escobar.

Gardenhire decided to go ahead and pitch to Bautista with Edwin Encarnacion, who homered in the eighth, on deck. Gardenhire said he simply didn't want to put the winning run on base, as he figured Bautista would have stolen second.

Bautista, who has nine homers in nine career games at Target Field, said he wasn't surprised Capps went right at him.

"I don't think Matt Capps is going to change the way he pitches because of one at-bat and go away from his strength," Bautista said. "He relies on location and he caught a break, and then he made a good pitch to me up in the zone. I probably should have taken it, but I expanded my zone a little bit because of what happened earlier and I swung at a bad pitch and popped up."

It came after Minnesota got out to an early lead against right-hander Kyle Drabek, scoring two runs in the first on a two-run single from Ryan Doumit after Drabek issued three walks.

The Twins added four more runs in the fifth, as Josh Willingham opened the scoring that frame with a bloop double off reliever Carlos Villanueva. Two batters later, Chris Parmelee brought home a run with a bases-loaded walk before Darin Mastroianni plated two runs with his first big league hit.

"It was just unbelievable," said Mastroianni, who went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in his third career game. "Being in the books to have a hit in the big leagues, especially an important one, is something I can't even imagine. So I felt very fortunate to get that opportunity tonight."

It was just enough for right-hander Nick Blackburn, who struggled to keep the ball in the park, but picked up his first win since July 8. It ended a stretch of 13 starts without a victory for the sinkerballer.

"That was a team win right there," Blackburn said. "That was offense and the bullpen getting that one. In no way do I deserve that one. It's kinda the funny thing about starting pitcher's records."

Blackburn served up two solo homers to Bautista -- one in the first and another in the sixth inning -- before giving up a two-run blast to Eric Thames after walking Encarnacion in the sixth. The two-run homer knocked him from the game after five-plus innings.

"In just three batters -- homer, walk, homer -- after throwing the ball so well, I felt bad for the kid because he pitched so well to that point," Gardenhire said. "He just made a couple pitches attacking the strike zone and they banged him real quick."

Relievers Alex Burnett and Jared Burton each pitched a scoreless inning in relief of Blackburn before handing it over to Glen Perkins in the eighth. Perkins served up a solo shot to Encarnacion, but it came after the Twins added an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI single from Mastroianni.

Perkins was able to pitch out of a jam, as he gave up back-to-back singles after the homer, but was able to get Colby Ramsus to ground into a double play on a nice play from Parmelee before Ben Francisco lined out to left on a sliding catch from Willingham.

"I knew he didn't hit it very well, so I just ran as hard as these old legs can go," Willingham said. "So once I was closing in on the ball, I knew I had to make a dive for it."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.