Twins snap three-game skid

Twins snap three-game skid

MINNEAPOLIS -- Coming off a series where runs were difficult to come by, the task for the Twins didn't appear to get much easier Friday.

With the Angels' All-Star pitcher John Lackey taking to the mound, the Twins knew that they could be facing yet another difficult test to produce offense.

Yet after scoring just five runs over three games with the Tigers, the Twins emerged from their offensive slump to tag Lackey for seven runs over five innings in a 7-5 victory over the Angels at the Metrodome.

Not exactly the result that anyone had expected.

"It was kind of one of those crazy ones," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after the victory. "You search the last three ballgames to try and score runs, and then tonight, we were coming around and scoring runs and they were scoring runs all over the place."

Crazy might have been the only way to describe the contest that unfolded, at least in the early goings Friday. Neither starting pitcher could seem to find their stuff as Twins starter Carlos Silva was giving up his fair share of hits and runs, too.

And it wasn't made easier for either team as the defense for both clubs seemed to be absent. Balls were flying all over the infield, with the two clubs combining to record five errors.

"It was kind of weird; both teams were hitting the ball and the scoring was going back and forth," Torii Hunter said. "We both made some crazy mistakes out there, and it got kind of ugly. But we did what we had to do, and we did it off one of the best pitchers in the league right now."

Capitalizing on Lackey's early struggles was big for the Twins. The right-hander, who got off to a tremendous start this season, has been a bit more fallible of late, going just 2-2 with a 4.85 ERA in his last six starts.

But Lackey started to show his better form after giving up the seven runs through three innings. Still, at that point, the Twins had already done enough scoring to pick up the win.

"Once he gets on a roll, he can do some tough damage to you, so it was fun to see guys come out swinging early," Gardenhire said.

Even more surprising about the offensive outburst was that it came without the Twins' usual cleanup hitter. Michael Cuddyer was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained thumb earlier in the day.

Gardenhire said before the game that it would take a group effort to make up for the loss of the 56 RBI- and 10-home run guy that solidified the middle of the lineup.

And the Twins seemed to take the message seriously. It was a combination of a few guys in the lineup who helped end the team's three-game skid.

Justin Morneau delivered three RBIs on the night, including two courtesy of his 26th home run of the year. Morneau's two-run shot over the center-field wall in the third inning off Lackey (12-6) carried 430 feet.

Jason Kubel also continued his hot streak at the plate, tallying three hits for the second consecutive game. One of those included a two-run triple in the first inning that was less than a textbook play but got the job done.

And in the end, the team was able to make due with the loss of Cuddyer for at least one night.

"He's been one of our most consistent guys all year, so we just need to do what we did tonight, and that's get on base and get the runs in any way we can," Kubel said. "It's not going to be one person; it's going to be everybody that has to do it."

The strong offense helped make up for a rare night where the Twins didn't get a quality start from Silva. But while it was a rough early going for Silva, giving up five runs over the first four innings, the right-hander settled down for the latter part of his outing. He retired eight of the final 10 batters he faced and lasted 6 2/3 innings.

The game was then turned over to the bullpen who held down the two-run lead. Dennys Reyes and Juan Rincon combined for 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and Joe Nathan picked up his 19th save of the season.

And in the end, it was a victory to what has been a week of ups and downs for the club. A four-game sweep of the A's started the homestand for Minnesota, and was followed by the club getting swept in three by Detroit.

The win was also big in that it allowed the Twins to pick up a game on the Tigers in the American League Central race.

After dropping three straight to Detroit at home, the Twins had found themselves trailing the Tigers by nine games for the division lead. But Detroit's loss to Kansas City at home gave an opening for Minnesota to trim that deficit to eight.

Making up ground is nice, but it was just more of a relief for the Twins to just finally be shaking hands at the end of a contest.

"Coming off a tough series, a draining series against Detroit where we lost three one-run games like that, and to be able to bounce back against a good team and get a win was big for us," Nathan said. "Hopefully, now we can get on a roll. The last series against Detroit was tough, but it's not going to kill us."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.