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Twins Bullpen Falls Apart In 8-7 Loss To Seattle

The Minnesota Twins took a 7-4 lead into the top of the eighth inning on Monday night against the Seattle Mariners, and it looked as though the team was about to get back on the winning track. The Minnesota bullpen once again fell apart when it mattered, and the Twins wound up giving one away to the Mariners, losing 8-7 in ten innings.

The Mariners got on the board right away in the top of the first inning, thanks to Jack Cust's two-run homer off of Carl Pavano. The blast snapped a 40-game homerless drought for Cust, the longer of his career. In the bottom of the inning, however, the Twins answered back as Denard Span hit his first ever Target Field home run to lead off the bottom of the first, slicing the lead to 2-1.

Seattle added single runs in the top of the second and in the top of the third to extend their lead to 4-1. However, the Twins came all the way back in the bottom of the fourth by putting up three runs, the first two coming courtesy of Jim Thome's two-run blast to right off of Seattle starter Jason Vargas. Span added a second RBI for himself with a single, bringing Delmon Young home to tie the score at four.

The Twins took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth on Young's RBI single, and extended their lead to 7-4 in the bottom of the seventh when Thome took Mariners' reliever Aaron Laffey to the opposite field for a two-run homer. Then, Ron Gardenhire pulled starter Carl Pavano prior to the top of the eighth and replaced him with Joe Nathan.

Nathan got the first out of the top of the eighth by striking out Carlos Peguero. Brendan Ryan then singled, and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Nathan. Jack Wilson then reached first on an error by shortstop Trevor Plouffe, and came home to score on a single by pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy, with Wilson advancing to third. Nathan then gave way to closer Matt Capps, who came in to face Ichiro. Ichiro hit a floater behind second base that Plouffe probably could have fielded, but wasn't aggressive enough in getting to the ball, allowing it to land and letting Wilson score from third on what turned into a fielder's choice.

The Twins failed to score in the bottom of the eighth, and took their 7-6 lead to the top of the ninth. Justin Smoak led off the inning with a single for the Mariners, and pinch-runner Michael Saunders stole second base when Cust struck out. Capps then got Franklin Gutierrez to ground back to him for the second out, but just couldn't close the deal as Peguero singled to bring in Saunders and tie the game at seven. The Twins had a chance in the bottom of the ninth, as they put runners on first and second, but Jason Repko grounded out to short to end the inning.

Anthony Swarzak came in to pitch the tenth, and gave up back-to-back singles to Jack Wilson and Miguel Olivo. Ichiro then sacrificed the runners to second and third, and Chone Figgins was intentionally walked to load the bases. Former Twin Luis Rodriguez then lifted a fly ball to center deep enough to score Wilson from third, and the Mariners took an 8-7 lead. The Twins went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the tenth, and wound up with their fourth consecutive loss.

Jamey Wright got the win for the Mariners after pitching the ninth inning, a victory that evens his record at 1-1. Brandon League got the save for the Mariners, his eleventh of the year. Swarzak took the loss for the Twins, dropping him to 0-2 on the year.

The same two teams will get together again at Target Field tomorrow night, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM. The Mariners will send right-hander Doug Fister (2-4, 2.93 ERA) to the mound, and the Twins will turn to Nick Blackburn (3-4, 3.40 ERA) to try to halt their latest losing streak.

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