The Twins made it a little more interesting than it needed to be, but they completed a three-game interleague sweep of the San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon at Target Field with a 5-4 victory. The win was the seventh in a row for the Twins and allowed Minnesota to climb out of the AL Central cellar for the first time this year.
The Twins jumped out to an early lead, thanks to Alexi Casilla unloading on an offering from Padres' starter Dustin Moseley in the bottom of the first, taking it into the right-field stands for a solo home run and giving the Twins a quick 1-0 advantage.
Twins' starter Francisco Liriano was, as the kids might say, "dealing" early on, as he retired six of the first nine Padres he faced on strikes. In the top of the fourth, however, the Padres broke through with three consecutive singles. Jason Bartlett got things started with a base hit, and Chase Headley moved him to second with a single of his own. Ryan Ludwick then singled to score Bartlett and tie the game at one.
The Padres threatened again in the top of the fifth, as three consecutive singles loaded the bases for San Diego with one out. Chris Denorfia lifted a sacrifice fly to score Orlando Hudson and give the Padres their first lead of the series, 2-1. After a walk to Bartlett loaded the bases again, Headley reached on an infield single that allowed Will Venable to score and extend the San Diego lead to 3-1.
The Twins struck back in the bottom of the seventh, as Michael Cuddyer led off the inning with a double. After a fly out by Delmon Young, Luke Hughes grounded one to Headley at third, who threw wildly to first, allowing Hughes to reach second and letting Cuddyer move up to third. Mike Adams then came on in relief of Moseley, and a groundout to third allowed Cuddyer to score and cut the deficit to 3-2. Rene Tosoni, pinch hitting for Rene Rivera, then doubled to right to score Hughes and tie the game at three, and Matt Tolbert followed that up with another double to score Tosoni and give the Twins a 4-3 lead.
Glen Perkins came in to relieve Liriano in the top of the eighth, and after getting the first out allowed singles to Ryan Ludwick and Jesus Guzman to put runners on the corners with one out. After Cameron Maybin flew out, the Twins intentionally walked Orlando Hudson to load the bases, Venable smashed a ground ball to first that Hughes made a great diving stop on. However, Perkins was late getting over to first base to cover, and Venable wound up with an infield hit that scored Ludwick and tied the game at four.
Things stayed that way until the bottom of the ninth, when Chad Qualls came into the game for San Diego to relieve Adams. Delmon Young led off the inning with a single, and Luke Hughes sacrificed him over to second. After an intentional pass to Nishioka, Drew Butera (who came in to catch after Tosoni pinch-hit for Rivera earlier on) ripped one to the left side of the infield that went off of Headley's glove and ricocheted into left-center field. Young came around to score, and the Twins left the field with a 5-4 victory.
Alex Burnett, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the Twins, got credited with the victory, raising his record on the season to 2-4. Qualls took the loss for the Padres, giving him a record of 3-3 on the year. Both starters performed well, even though neither of them figured in the decision. Dustin Moseley pitched 6.1 innings, allowing just three hits and one run. Liriano gave up eight hits and three runs over seven innings of work, striking out eight. Both Mike Adams and Glen Perkins were each credited with a blown save for their teams.
The Twins will take the day off on Monday, and then head back out onto the road, starting with a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night at AT&T Park. The pitching match-up as it stands right now is Carl Pavano (4-5, 4.20 ERA) squaring off against Madison Bumgarner (3-8, 3.21 ERA).