Bedard, M's upend Twins
By Dave Campbell, AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS -- Following their 13th loss in 18 home games in front of a frustrated crowd at Target Field, the Minnesota Twins acknowledged how difficult it is to keep a positive attitude.
With Memorial Day not quite here, they're already 14½ games out of first in the AL Central, the place they've been so accustomed to holding over the past 10 years.
Erik Bedard threw six shutout innings and Franklin Gutierrez hit his first home run of the season, sending the Seattle Mariners past the slump-ridden Twins with a 3-0 win on Wednesday afternoon.
"It's very frustrating, because we know we can play," said Brian Duensing, who threw seven strong innings.
David Pauley tossed two scoreless innings in relief, Brandon League pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 15 attempts and the Twins managed only seven singles on their way to their fifth shutout this season. They have the worst record in the majors at 16-32 and the fewest runs with 164.
Bedard (3-4) had a lot to do with that, stretching his scoreless innings streak to 14. After missing last year with a bad shoulder, the Canadian left-hander has bounced back in a big way on his $1 million, one-year contract.
He allowed six hits and one walk while striking out four.
"He had really good late movement. He kept us off balance," designated hitter Jim Thome said.
Duensing (2-5) hasn't been as effective thus far in 2011 as he was the past two years, but manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game he believes Duensing's rhythm was interrupted by a rainout earlier this month and another delay that forced him into a relief appearance.
The Twins have lauded his attitude and flexibility, and Gardenhire expressed hope that the left-hander could return to form. He showed signs of doing just that, saving the depleted bullpen again the day after Nick Blackburn's complete-game victory.
"It threw me off a little bit, but at the same time though at this level you should be able to make this adjustment," Duensing said, adding: "The last couple starts, I've felt a lot better. In between the starts with the bullpens and going out there, I feel more comfortable."
He yielded only four hits, but two of them were costly -- and crushed.
After Gutierrez walked to start the second inning, Adam Kennedy drove a double down the right-field line that eluded diving first baseman Justin Morneau's glove and was difficult for Jason Kubel to corral in the corner.
Gutierrez scored, and Kennedy cruised home two batters later on Brendan Ryan's single to center past a drawn-in infield to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead.
Gutierrez then led off the fourth with a long fly that sliced through a steady wind and reached the left-field seats.
"I wasn't looking for the pitch at all, but he just threw it over the plate and I put a good swing on it," Gutierrez said.
Duensing struck out five and walked two, but he has not won since April 23.
"It's just kind of snowballing. It's hard to stay positive," he said.
Over the past 31 days, the Twins have won only seven games -- losing 20.
"The key is to make sure you're positive, to make sure everybody else sees that," Thome said.
The Twins had their best chance against Bedard when Drew Butera and Alexi Casilla began the fifth with back-to-back singles. Denard Span moved them over with a groundout, but Matt Tolbert's fly to right fielder Ichiro Suzuki was held up in the stiff wind and too shallow for Butera to score.
The fans booed a little bit, and Gardenhire said afterward he wished Butera would've taken a chance and tried to go home. Jason Kubel flied out to deep left to finish the threat.
The way Bedard was throwing, though, Butera's run didn't really matter.
"His breaking ball was snapping as hard as anybody's we've seen this year," the manager said.
NOTES: Though there's no game, some of the Twins will still be at the ballpark on Thursday night for Harmon Killebrew's memorial service. Some of his former teammates will meet at the Mall of America in Bloomington where home plate at Metropolitan Stadium once sat, then take light rail -- the specially named No. 3 train -- downtown to the Metrodome where other ex-Twins will board. The group will continue to Target Field and enter through Gate 3 -- numbered for Killebrew -- before the open-to-the-public event. ... Twins RF/1B/2B Michael Cuddyer was out of the lineup for a second straight game because of a strained right hip. He told Gardenhire he felt much better and was available to play. ... Joe Mauer took three at-bats as the DH in an extended spring training game in Fort Myers, Fla., the latest step in his slow comeback from soreness and weakness in his legs.