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Twins miss chance to take division lead

Twins miss chance to take division lead

TORONTO -- After the first four innings of Tuesday's game at Rogers Centre, things seemed to be working out well for the Twins. Though, as has been the case many times during its recent road trip, Minnesota came out on the losing end of a close affair.

The Twins established an early lead, but could not hold it as they were defeated, 7-5, by the Blue Jays. With the loss, Minnesota (77-61) yet again missed an opportunity to wrestle sole possession of first place in the American League Central division from the White Sox, who also lost on Tuesday.

As well, the defeat dropped the Twins' record to 5-7 on their current 14-game road trip -- the team's longest in 39 years.

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"It's getting old," said Twins center fielder Denard Span. "We've lost some tough ones this whole road trip. All the losses we've had have been ones where we should have won the game. It's just something where we have to pick it up and start finishing games a little bit better."

By the fifth inning, the Twins had built a 5-1 lead over the Jays. However, in the bottom of that frame, Minnesota starter Glen Perkins allowed Toronto (71-66) to slice the lead when he surrendered a two-run home run to designated hitter Jose Bautista. The very next batter, Alex Rios, smoked a 1-2 pitch off the facing of the stadium's second deck to cut the Twins' lead to 5-4.

"It was just one of those nights where I didn't have anything really," said Perkins, who allowed four runs on 10 hits over his five innings. "It was a disappointing night. Having a four run lead -- that's a game we should win. It started with me giving back three runs in the fifth inning. That's a tough spot to put the bullpen in."

Twins reliever Boof Bonser came out of the bullpen in the beginning of the sixth inning, trying to protect Perkins' slim lead. However, the right-hander could not fare much better, as he walked Toronto third baseman Scott Rolen to begin the frame.

Following the walk, Toronto wasted no time as first baseman Lyle Overbay smacked an 0-1 offering from Bonser over the left-field wall, allowing the Jays to complete their comeback and gain a 6-5 lead.

"It's my job to come in and keep us ahead, not put them ahead," said Bonser (3-7). "This is a game we should have won. Just happens that we didn't win. We know where we're at [in the standings] so every game is big."

With the Twins in the middle of a road trip that has spanned from California to Canada, Bonser refused to blame its length on the Twins' play of late.

"Yeah, it's tiring being in the road for so many days, but you can't use excuses like that," he said.

Though it was eventually for naught, the Twins were able to build their early lead off Jays starter David Purcey, who was chased from the game by the fourth inning. Justin Morneau and Delmon Young drove in runs with RBI singles in the third inning. Catcher Joe Mauer scored on a wild pitch in the frame.

In the fourth, Minnesota was able to tack on two more runs with an RBI single by Span and a sacrifice fly by Mauer.

"[We had] a good start to the night and just couldn't finish it off," said manager Ron Gardenhire.

Following Minnesota's runs in the fourth inning, the Twins were shut down for the rest of the game by a dominant Toronto bullpen, which tossed six scoreless innings and allowed just two hits.

"They have got a lot of arms out there," said Gardenhire. "I think about four or five lefties. They've been doing a lot of good things. They're well rested. We've read all the reports on them and they throw a lot different things at you.

"Their pitching staff is very good. You get some runs off them early, you better hold them. If you get behind, it's really tough with that pitching staff and that bullpen."

Given the way the Twins have played lately, coupled with the fact that they are not capitalizing on Chicago's losses, could be a deflating factor for the team. However, that is not the thought in the Minnesota clubhouse at this point.

"We can't let today affect us tomorrow," said Span. "We've bounced back, we've had some tough losses this road trip and it seems like each day we come back with a good attitude and that's all you can do. We're still in it. We've still got time, but we don't have time."

David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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