Twins' offense limited in loss to Phils

Twins' offense limited in loss to Phils

Twins' offense limited in loss to Phils
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins entered Thursday touting baseball's hottest offense this month. Minnesota's 68 runs scored were the most in the Majors since June 1.

Phillies starter Joe Blanton slowed the lineup to a crawl, for at least one night. The Twins were limited to one run on seven hits and lost to Philadelphia, 6-1, in front of 32,205 at Target Field. The defeat also ends the club's series winning streak at four.

Blanton threw his eighth career complete game. He totaled seven strikeouts against the Twins, who were a night removed from scoring eight runs on 10 hits. The Philadelphia right-hander threw 78 of his 111 pitches for strikes.

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"He carved us up," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Changeups and cutters and curveball, and located his fastball. ... He pounded the strike zone and did what you're supposed to do. He chewed us up pretty good."

Minnesota was punished by former Twin Jim Thome's second home run in as many nights. Thome hit a three-run shot off starter Scott Diamond in the third to put Philadelphia ahead, 4-1. Jimmy Rollins doubled to lead off the inning, and Hunter Pence walked before scoring on Thome's blast.

Diamond admitted that facing Thome was a little different than any other Phillies hitter.

"I try to look at it as like another at-bat," Diamond said. "But him standing in there, he definitely has a presence. He was not only a great player when he was here, but also a great teammate. It's tough not to focus on that, but I was just trying to go pitch by pitch."

The 41-year-old Thome finished the series with nine RBIs -- his career high for a three-game series.

"There's always going to be people who doubt the age," Thome said. "To know you can work hard and have some success does mean a lot, no doubt."

Diamond mostly coasted after Thome took him deep, retiring 11 of the final 13 batters he faced. But the early runs cost Diamond his first loss in four starts. His scoreless streak ended at 14 1/3 innings when Ty Wigginton tagged him for a solo home run in the second.

The left-hander allowed a season-high four earned runs on five hits over six innings. But the scoring all came on two pitches.

"I challenged a lot of guys and was able to mix it up a little bit," Diamond said. "If I was able to take those two pitches back, that would be a little bit different ballgame."

Trevor Plouffe evened the score at 1 in the second with his 12th home run of the season and his seventh in his last 11 games. He entered the day as baseball's leader in slugging percentage for the month of June at .950.

"He put a nice swing on that ball -- banged it pretty good," Gardenhire said. "When they make a mistake, he's not missing it too many times."

Blanton limited the Twins to few scoring threats in his complete-game win, the most notable coming when Justin Morneau came up just shy of pulling Minnesota within a run in the sixth. His deep drive to center field was caught on the warning track to strand Joe Mauer on second base.

Reliever Lester Oliveros, making his first appearance since being called up from Triple-A, allowed a run in the eighth. Oliveros walked Shane Victorino with two outs, then Victorino came around to score on Carlos Ruiz's double. Ruiz's hit was the only one allowed by Oliveros.

"He threw the ball well," Gardenhire said. "The ball came out of his hand really nice. That was fun to see. He's going to help us."

The Phillies added another run in the ninth on Placido Polanco's RBI single against Jeff Gray.

Josh Willingham's hitting streak ended at 15 games, as he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against Blanton. The 15-game streak tied a career high.

"He threw the ball well," Willingham said. "He's one of those guys that had a good night tonight."

Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.