Hendriks, Twins squander four-run lead

Hendriks, Twins squander four-run lead

Hendriks, Twins squander four-run lead
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's becoming a familiar script for Liam Hendriks.

But unfortunately for the rookie right-hander, it's one without a happy ending.

Hendriks failed to pick up his first big league win yet again Friday night, as the Twins blew an early four-run lead in a 7-6 loss to the Indians at Target Field.

Hendriks -- making his 16th Major League start -- was handed a 4-0 lead, but couldn't protect it and was saddled with a no-decision. He's now tied for the fifth-most starts to begin a career without a win in Major League history, with the record being 20 starts without a victory set by Bill Caudill (1979-81) and Mike Mohler ('93-97).

"I'm trying not to think about it too much," said Hendriks, who owns a career 6.19 ERA. "It's going to come. I'm just trying to keep the team in the game as long as I can and go deeper into games. And unfortunately, my first two innings I threw 50 pitches or something like that. It's just not gonna help me get deep into games. I need to go out there and attack a little more and get out of those 3-2 counts."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire agreed with Hendriks' assessment, as he'd like to see him go after hitters, especially when pitching with a lead.

"He threw 107 pitches in five innings, he didn't attack the strike zone, and I'm just guessing, but it sure looked like a lot of breaking balls to me," Gardenhire said. "Flipping the ball. He didn't attack, he didn't pound the strike zone. You get a lead, you have to go attack."

Hendriks was given an early lead, as the Twins jumped on Indians right-hander Jeanmar Gomez in the early going. The right-hander gave up four runs on three hits and three walks over just three innings.

Minnesota scored in the second on a sacrifice fly from Chris Parmelee before tallying three runs in the third. Josh Willingham plated two runs on a double to give him a career-high 100 RBIs before Justin Morneau brought home a run on a sac fly.

But the four runs weren't enough for Hendriks, who promptly coughed up two runs in the fourth on a two-run homer from Russ Canzler before serving up two more in the fifth.

"We had some good at-bats against Hendriks and got his pitch count up really quick," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Lot of good two-strike approaches."

Shin-Soo Choo came through with an RBI single for the first run of the fifth, before Canzler hit a dribbler down the third-base line with the bases loaded and two outs. The dribbler brought home the tying run, as Trevor Plouffe had no play and had to pick it up for an infield hit.

"He just hit it in the perfect spot at the perfect pace," Hendriks said. "There's just nothing you can do about it."

The Twins ran into more bad luck in the seventh, when left-handed reliever Tyler Robertson had Jason Kipnis picked off at first base, but shortstop Pedro Florimon dropped the throw from Justin Morneau for an error. Kipnis later came around to score on a single from Michael Brantley off reliever Alex Burnett.

Canzler then reached on an infield single off the glove of Florimon to load the bases for Casey Kotchman, who hit a slow roller down the first-base line, but the ball went off Burnett's glove and no one was covering first base. It went down as an RBI single for Kotchman and the Indians added another run, when pinch-hitter Cord Phelps drew a bases-loaded walk.

After Gomez left the game, right-hander David Huff held the Twins in check, throwing 3 1/3 perfect innings to get the win.

The Twins rallied late, scoring in the eighth on an RBI double from Willingham to score Joe Mauer, who led off the inning with a single off reliever Vinnie Pestano. But Pestano was able to strand Willingham, and closer Chris Perez picked up his 35th save, allowing a single run in the ninth before closing the door.

"We kept competing," Gardenhire said. "We had chances there at the end, got within one run, but that really honestly should have been our ballgame. Lots of silly little plays out there that we're supposed to make, and we just didn't make them. Turns out we give them runs, we end up fighting back, and doesn't work out and we come up short again."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.