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Preview: Twins Look to Prolong Braves' Minnesota Misery

In what turned out to be another pitchers duel at Target Field, the Atlanta Braves turned to an unlikely play from an unlikely source to get themselves a victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night.

Brooks Conrad, who Braves manager Bobby Cox placed into the starting lineup about half an hour before game time, dropped down a squeeze bunt in the top of the ninth inning to score Gregor Blanco from third, and Billy Wagner made it stand up as Atlanta triumphed over Minnesota by a score of 3-2.

Matt Guerrier took the loss for the Twins, who lost to the Braves for only the third time in 12 lifetime meetings between the two teams.  He walked Blanco to start off the top of the ninth inning, and then allowed Martin Prado to single to left field on a hit-and-run to put runners at the corners with nobody out.  Jose Mijares then came into the ball game, and Conrad dropped down the squeeze bunt.  Mijares bobbled the ball, resulting in Conrad being safe at first.

The Twins had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth, as they managed to load the bases with two outs.  Unfortunately, Jason Kubel struck out against left-hander Jonny Venters, who wound up picking up the win for Atlanta.

Both starting pitchers put up very similar numbers on the evening, with neither figuring in the decision.  Twins starter Nick Blackburn went seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits, striking out five and walking two.  Derek Lowe went 7.1 innings, also allowing two runs on six hits, and issued three free passes while striking out four.

The rubber game of the series is this afternoon at Target Field, with first pitch being scheduled for 1:10 PM Central Time.  The pitching match-up has Atlanta right-hander Kris Medlen (3-1, 3.21 ERA) squaring off against Kevin Slowey (7-3, 3.45 ERA).

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.