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Twins Unable To Solve Piniero In 4-1 Loss To Angels

Los Angeles Angels' left-hander Joel Piniero had not won a game since July 9, and had posted a record of 0-3 with a 10.30 ERA in six starts during that time.

Then he got to face the 2011 Minnesota Twins. This tends to make some pitchers look a little better than they are.

Piniero allowed just one run, a solo home run from Joe Mauer in the top of the fourth inning, in silencing the Twins' offense en route to a 4-1 victory in the rubber game of the three-game series between Minnesota and Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon.

It didn't take long for the Angels to get on the board, as Bobby Abreu homered to right field off of Twins' starter Kevin Slowey, a solo blast that staked the Angels to an early 1-0 lead. A fielder's choice by Howie Kendrick in the bottom of the third added another run for Los Angeles to extend their lead to 2-0. Mauer then hit his solo home run, just his second of the 2011 season, to cut the Angels' lead in half at 2-1.

The score remained that way until the bottom of the eighth inning, as Alex Burnett relieved Slowey. Burnett failed to retire any Angels, as he hit Kendrick with a pitch to lead off the inning. After Kendrick stole second, Burnett walked Abreu, and gave up a single to Torii Hunter that allowed Kendrick to score and make it 3-1. Jim Hoey was then brought in to replace Burnett and, after retiring Mark Trumbo, allowed an RBI single to Vernon Wells to give us the final margin of 4-1.

The Twins managed just five hits on the afternoon, with Mauer's home run being the only one that went for extra bases.

The loss for the Twins is their 81st of the year, which all but guarantees their first sub-.500 season since 2007, and just the second losing season of the Ron Gardenhire era.

Minnesota will return to Target Field on Monday for a Labor Day doubleheader with the Chicago White Sox, with the first game getting underway at 1:10 PM Central time. The pitching match-up for the opener will see Chicago's Philip Humber (8-8, 3.63 ERA) battling Minnesota's Anthony Swarzak (3-5, 4.14 ERA), while the nightcap will see Zach Stewart (1-3, 5.48 ERA) taking the hill for the White Sox and Scott Diamond (1-2, 4.82 ERA) taking the ball for Minnesota.

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