SAN DIEGO -- Kevin Correia doesn't pitch in Petco Park for the Padres anymore. But he still seems to have a home-field advantage here.
The veteran righthander, who grew up about 10 miles away and pitched for his hometown team for two seasons, retired the first 12 batters he faced Tuesday and went on to get the win in the Twins' 5-3 victory over San Diego.
Correia's statistics said he dominated his former club for five of the six innings he pitched, posting one of his best games as a Twin despite a four-hit, three-run hiccup in the fifth inning. With a host of friends and relatives in the stands, the native Californian struck out one batter in each of the six innings he pitched, walked only one all night, and lasted six innings for the first time since May 3.
And Correia, who has pitched in Petco Park more than any ballpark except San Francisco's AT&T Park, seemed to use every bit of that institutional knowledge, every inch of the spacious outfield, to his advantage in improving to 2-5. Three Padres fly balls were caught with a Twins outfielder's back to the fence, and a sure, game-tying double by Chase Headley landed an inch or two foul in deep right field.
There was no denying the positive vibes that Correia's performance gave the Twins, who had wondered where the relatively stable strike-thrower of a year ago had gone in 2014.
"One thing we watched him do pretty much all last year was locate and attack the strike zone," manager Ron Gardenhire said before Tuesday's game, Correia's ninth start of the season. "If you talk to Kevin, he feels great, he has no issues health-wise. But sometimes the ball just doesn't come out as crisp as it does other times."
After four perfect innings, Correia suddenly got the ball where the Padres wanted, turning the Twins' early 2-0 lead into a 3-2 deficit. Headley led off by slicing a double into the right field corner, breaking up Correia's streak of 12 consecutive outs. Will Venable followed with a line-drive single to left, and Jedd Gyorko drove in the Padres' first run with another single. Correia induced two consecutive fly balls, but the first one sent Chris Parmelee to the wall in right field, enabling both runners to move up, and the second one scored Venable from third.
Then came Correia's worst moment: He centered a pitch in the strike zone to Ian Kennedy, and the .125-hitting pitcher laced a single up the middle, giving himself the lead.
The Twins struck back quickly, however, with Trevor Plouffe leading off the sixth by doubling into the right field corner. He moved to third on a Parmelee groundout, and tied the score when a Kennedy pitch to Jason Kubel bounced in the dirt and past catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Kennedy inflicted similar damage to his own cause in the seventh, too, bouncing another pitch to the backstop and allowing Eduardo Escobar to score for a 4-3 Twins lead.
The Twins made it 5-3 in the eighth on one of the more bizarre home runs in recent history.
Kurt Suzuki bashed a ball off Nick Vincent that just cleared the left field wall, and left fielder Seth Smith's glove, then bounced back onto the field. Second base umpire Andy Fletcher incorrectly called the ball in play, but Smith, apparently realizing the call was wrong and would be overturned, chose not to pursue the ball as it rolled away. Suzuki raced around the bases as center fielder Will Venable ran after the ball. Suzuki slid home just ahead of the relay to the plate, his second home run of the season and first inside-the-park homer of his career.
The umpires briefly conferred, but since it was a home run either way, let Fletcher's call stand, making the play Minnesota's first inside-the-park homer since Joe Mauer hit one in the Metrodome against the Angels on July 21, 2007.
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