SEATTLE -- The Minnesota Twins left Safeco Field on Thursday night with a short-term goal to reach before the All-Star break, one that emerged this week:
Hit the break with a little momentum.
The Twins held off the Seattle Mariners 4-2 Thursday, winning the final three games of the four-game series after coming in having lost 10 of their previous 12. One victory at Colorado this weekend clinches a winning road trip, and anything after that is extra sugar.
"We know we have been scuffling along here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game. "No one feels it more than us in the clubhouse. We have some health things and were trying to get through it and get some people back.
"We know we're missing some people who we are going to get back after the All-Star break. But the guys here, we've got some people who are starting to swing the bat pretty good."
Kendrys Morales drove in two runs on a two-out, fifth-inning double, giving him five RBI in two days. Sam Fuld singled and scored again, and he reached base eight times this series. And righthander Yohan Pino (1-2) earned his first major league victory in five tries.
Seattle closed within 4-2 in the seventh inning on Kyle Seager's sacrifice fly to left. But the inning ended there: James Jones was initially ruled safe advancing to third, but replays showed he was tagged out by Eduardo Escobar after Trevor Plouffe cut off Josh Willingham's throw.
The Mariners took what appeared to be a risky approach to the game. Ace Felix Hernandez was pushed back so he could start Friday against AL West leader Oakland. Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon started one of his relievers, Tom Wilhelmsen (1-2), who was making his first career start in 191 appearances.
It was Pino who was struggled early as he fell behind six of the first seven batters he faced. Seager opened the scoring with a solo home run to right in the second inning.
The Twins came right back in third. Fuld drew a one-out walk and Brian Dozier followed with a single. With Kurt Suzuki batting, the Twins pulled off a double steal. And, when Mike Zunino's throw sailed down the left field line, Fuld scored to tie it up. Suzuki added a sacrifice fly as the Twins took a 2-1 lead.
For Pino to get that elusive first major league victory, he had to get through five innings. It was a challenge. He loaded the bases in the third by walking Seager, prompting a visit from pitching coach Rick Anderson. Pino ran the count to 3-2 to Corey Hart before getting him to flail at a breaking ball to end the inning. That seemed to energize him as he finally got control of his curveball.
In the fifth, Pino again loaded the bases by walking Seager, again bringing out Anderson. But Hart was retired on a grounder, with Chris Parmelee and Pino combining for a nice play. Four Twins relievers finished off the Mariners from there, with Glen Perkins earning his 22nd save.
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