MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Defensive miscues cost the Twins a chance to beat the Seattle Mariners.
Former Twin Luis Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning and the Seattle Mariners beat Minnesota 8-7 on Monday night. It was the Twins' fourth straight loss.
Jim Thome returned from the disabled list and homered twice - including a 465-foot shot that bounced high in the air after landing on the Target Field pavilion in the fourth inning. His line drive that just cleared the wall in left field put the Twins ahead 7-4 in the seventh, but a shaky inning from rookie shortstop Trevor Plouffe exposed the Twins' ragged bullpen and opened the door for the Mariners' comeback.
``Mistakes, we talk about it all the time - the fundamentals, get the outs you're supposed to,' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``We didn't do that, and it overshadowed a great night by Jim Thome.'
With one out and a man on second in the eighth, Jack Wilson hit what looked like a routine ground ball, but Plouffe sat back, then had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and was charged with an error.
Then, after Adam Kennedy's RBI single, Plouffe let Ichiro Suzuki's blooper to fall between him and second base, allowing Wilson to score to cut Minnesota's lead to 7-6.
``I don't really know the thinking there, but I know that ball has to be caught in the air,' Gardenhire said. ``Those are two plays that have to be made and it cost us a lot. It cost us our bullpen, it cost us a ballgame.'
Plouffe, who also went 0-for-5 at the plate, said the problem was a lack of aggressiveness on defense.
``I was passive, and when you let teams have extra outs it's never good,' he said. ``Tonight was definitely tough and I take a lot of the blame for that, absolutely.'
After Carl Pavano recovered from a rocky start to retire the final eight batters he faced, Joe Nathan allowed the two eighth-inning runs and only recorded one out before being relieved by Matt Capps.
Capps escaped the eighth, but Peguero lined a two-out single to center in the ninth to score Saunders from second and tie it at 7.
Capps had a chance to catch Saunders too far off second base on a comebacker to the mound with one out, but failed to make the throw.
``I couldn't get a handle on it and I sure as hell didn't want to throw it into center field,' Capps said. ``I felt like it was going to be close but I just didn't have a good handle on it. Get the out and you've got two outs, and (then) if I make a better pitch to Peguero it's insignificant. Unfortunately, I didn't do that and it was significant.'
After the Twins failed to tie it in the ninth - Thome batted, but was intentionally walked - Jack Wilson led off the 10th with a single against reliever Anthony Swarzak (0-2) and scored on Rodriguez's fly to center.
Jamey Wright (1-1) worked around two walks in the ninth to earn the win. He got Jason Repko to ground out with a runner on second to send the game to extra innings. Brandon League pitched a perfect inning for his 11th save in 14 chances.
After the game, Gardenhire was most concerned about how the team's shabby defense forced Capps to throw 31 pitches over 1 2/3 innings, a common frustration of late for the Twins, who have lost nine straight at home.
``He threw a lot of pitches, which is pretty frustrating because it should have been a pretty quick eighth and then go to the ninth, but it didn't,' Gardenhire said.
``That's what happens - it's just kind of like a domino effect. A bad play here and a bad play there ends up costing you more in the end, and it hurts you for the next game too.
NOTES: The entire Twins team circled around a large No. 3 behind second base to honor Harmon Killebrew during a pregame ceremony. The Twins will hold a public memorial service for Killebrew at 7 p.m. at Target Field on Thursday. ... An MRI exam on Twins RHP Kevin Slowey's oblique did not reveal any damage, but he wasn't available. Slowey might be sent to Triple-A Rochester or traded so he can again become a starter. ... Minnesota C Joe Mauer and 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka are rehabbing in Florida and could see game action later this week. RF Michael Cuddyer and LF Delmon Young both left the game with injuries. Cuddyer suffered a strained hip on a checked swing, while Young fouled a ball off his lower leg. Gardenhire said Young would be fine, but Cuddyer would have to be reassessed on Tuesday.
The Associated Press News Service
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