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Twins' Comeback Falls Just Short In 8-7 Loss To Diamondbacks

For the first six innings of Friday evening's game at Chase Field, we had a good, old fashioned pitchers duel between Ian Kennedy and Brian Duensing. By the time it was over, 15 runs had been scored, and the Arizona Diamondbacks extended their winning streak to four games while Minnesota saw their three-game winnings streak snapped after Arizona's 8-7 victory.

Minnesota struck first in the top of the second inning, when Michael Cuddyer took Kennedy deep to left for his fifth home run of the year, a solo shot that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead. Duensing was cruising through the Arizona lineup, allowing just one hit through the first four innings, but Kelly Johnson collected a two-out single to score Xavier Nady and tie the game at one in the bottom of the fifth. The Twins took the lead right back in the top of the sixth thanks to a solo home run by Trevor Plouffe, giving Minnesota a 2-1 advantage.

After a relatively smooth first six innings, Duensing faced four hitters in the bottom of the seventh without registering an out, as Steven Drew led off the inning with a solo home run to tie the score at two. Duensing then gave up a double to Chris Young, a single to Miguel Montero, and a single to Nady that scored Young to give the Diamondbacks their first lead of the evening at 3-2.

Duensing was then lifted for Glen Perkins, who got two outs when Kelly Johnson's failed attempt at a sacrifice forced Montero at third, and Kennedy's sacrifice put runners on second and third with two outs. Perkins intentionally walked Willie Bloomquist to load the bases, and third baseman Ryan Roberts made the Twins pay with a bases-clearing triple to make the score 6-2. Alex Burnett then came in to relieve Perkins, and got Justin Upton to fly out to end the inning.

The Twins got two of those runs back in the top of the eighth, as Jason Kubel came through with a clutch two-out triple to score Denard Span and Trevor Plouffe and make it a 6-4 game. Arizona took those two runs right back in the bottom of the eighth, however, as Miguel Montero and Kelly Johnson each drove in runs for the Diamondbacks, and they took an 8-4 lead into the top of the ninth inning.

After Michael Cuddyer grounded out to start the ninth inning, Danny Valencia blasted a home run off of Juan Gutierrez to cut the deficit to 8-5. Delmon Young then reached on an infield single, and Gutierrez was lifted for David Hernandez. Hernandez, to put it bluntly, was horrendous. He gave up a double to Drew Butera that scored Young and cut the Arizona lead to 8-6. Matt Tolbert then came to the plate to pinch hit, and Hernandez walked him. Hernandez then proceeded to walk Denard Span to load the bases, and then walked Trevor Plouffe to force home a run, making the score 8-7 and leaving the Twins with the bases loaded and only one out.

The Diamondbacks then turned to reliever Joe Paterson to try to put out the fire, and that's exactly what he did. Paterson struck out Jason Kubel looking to record the second out, and got Justin Morneau to ground out to second base to secure what turned out to be a wild victory for the Diamondbacks.

Interestingly, after all those late fireworks, the two starting pitchers were the ones that wound up taking the decisions for their respective teams. Kennedy got the victory for Arizona, raising his record to 5-1 on the season, while Duensing got the loss for the Twins, dropping him to 2-4. The save for Paterson was his first on the season.

The same two teams will get together at Chase Field again on Saturday night, with the first pitch scheduled for slightly later than Friday night's game, as they're scheduled to get underway at 9:10 PM Central time. Scott Baker (2-3, 3.99 ERA) will get the ball for the Twins, while the Diamondbacks have called Micah Owings up from the minor leagues to take the start for them. Owings has no record on the 2011 season.

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