Pavano bests Doc by going distance

Pavano bests Doc by going distance

PHILADELPHIA -- Carl Pavano got a proper thank you from an exhausted bullpen after his gem Sunday.

"I got a couple of hugs, definitely,'' Pavano said, with a grin.

In two wild games against the Phillies here, the Twins bullpen had been forced into action for 15 2 /3 innings, as neither starter Nick Blackburn nor Kevin Slowey could get out of the second inning. But Pavano gave the bullpen a break and the Twins the series with a 4-1 complete-game win over the Phillies.

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins
"Carl Pavano was fantastic," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Our 'pen was in dire need of that, and he stepped up.

"A complete game, in that heat, shutting a good team down like that? That's impressive. He kept them off balance, and changed speeds. He could get any pitch over. That's a veteran, that knows he can get behind in the count and still throw his breaking ball, spin a ball over the plate, throw the changeup.

"We were just happy to make it through the first two innings. After that, it was a piece of cake."

Well, maybe not that easy, and Gardenhire was plainly joking. But the idea that the Twins could have two starters get just five outs apiece in this series and still win two games was really something to see.

"That just shows the resilience of this team," Michael Cuddyer said.

It also helped that Pavano was on his game. When he's going to be good, it's usually apparent early that he's going to be very good -- Pavano has a 2.17 ERA in his eight wins. He said he might have gotten a little lucky early, but then settled into a groove and mowed through the Phillies with a little help from the Twins' defense.

"I was pitching to the middle of the plate a lot, and they hit a lot of fly balls to the warning track," Pavano said. "They were just missing some pitches. Then I got into a rhythm and got the ball down, and got some ground balls. I pitch to contact, and I have to get ground balls, and the guys played great behind me."

Pavano struck out just two, but did not walk a batter.

"Pavano was moving his ball around pretty good, and he was definitely on the plate and using all his pitches," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Early on in the game I thought we hit some balls hard, but they got caught."

Phillies ace Roy Halladay entered the game 8-1 in his career against the Twins, but he allowed 11 hits -- the most hits the Twins have ever managed against him.

"I wouldn't say we figured him out. I'd stay away from that phrase; that doesn't happen with him," Cuddyer said.

"They're going to put the ball in play, and sometimes they find holes," Halladay said. "We were aggressive, and we went after guys. You're going to take your lumps sometimes."

Orlando Hudson singled with one out in the first inning and stole second. Joe Mauer drilled a liner up the middle for a single to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. Denard Span made it 2-0 in the fifth with a solo homer.

Pavano's only moment of weakness was Wilson Valdez's home run in the fifth, which cut the Minnesota lead to 2-1. But the Twins got that run back with some creative baserunning by Justin Morneau in the sixth.

Morneau singled to center to lead off, and took a wide turn. So wide that Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino tried to pick him off first base by throwing behind him. Morneau simply put his head down and continued to second, sliding in ahead of first baseman Ryan Howard's throw (Howard was given an error on the play). Morneau came around to score on Jason Kubel's single.

Kubel extended his hitting streak to 12 games.

In the eighth Morneau drilled a solo homer to right to make it 4-1.

Kevin Roberts is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.