Homers send Twins to 5th straight win
SEATTLE (AP) -- Michael Cuddyer was joking before Monday night's game about how his glove to play second base is about half the size of his normal one.
The regular right fielder was making his first start at second since 2005. Starter Orlando Hudson was back in Minneapolis getting tests on his left wrist following his game-ending collision with center fielder Denard Span on Sunday.
Cuddyer's glove was smaller. The bat?
"No! It stays the same," he said, joking again after the game. "Separate!"
Cuddyer and Jason Kubel homered on consecutive pitches, Delmon Young hit a two-run shot and the Minnesota Twins held on to tie their season-high with their fifth consecutive victory, 5-4 over the Seattle Mariners.
Justin Morneau doubled twice and had three hits to raise his major league-leading average to .377, and the Twins hit as many homers in four innings as they had in their just-completed, nine-game homestand while finishing 16-12 in May.
Coupled with their 15-8 April, the Twins had consecutive winning full months (not counting partial Octobers) for the first time in three seasons.
They added four games to their lead in the AL Central in May. It is now 4½ games over Detroit.
Thanks largely to the emergency second baseman with the same old bat.
"We were hoping for runs. That's why we put that lineup out there," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I'll take my chances."
So will Cuddyer.
He grew up as a shortstop and was Minnesota's regular third baseman through 2005. He's primarily been the team's right fielder since, but says he always carries a middle infielder glove "just in case."
"I'm up for anything. Doesn't matter where I play," said Cuddyer, who singled home another run and scored on Young's homer. "I was comfortable."
Doug Fister (3-3) lost his AL ERA lead to Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann while allowing a career high-tying three home runs in the first four innings.
In the fourth, Cuddyer hit the first pitch he saw deep into the left-field bleachers for his sixth homer. Kubel followed with his sixth, on a first-pitch fastball, to make it 5-1.
It was the first time since Sept. 23, 2008, that Minnesota had homered on consecutive pitches, when Kubel and Young did it against the Chicago White Sox.
Just like that, Fister had allowed as many home runs as he had in nine starts this season.
Fister allowed five runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings. His ERA went from 2.03 to 2.45 in his first career start against Minnesota.
The Mariners went 8-19 in May -- matching their fewest wins ever in the month. They entered the month one game under .500 and one-half game out of first place in the AL West. They leave it 12 games under and eight games out.
Seattle fell to 6-13 in one-run games, the most such losses in the majors.
"We still believe (things) are going to start changing," said shortstop Josh Wilson, who had three hits.
Wilson's RBI single off Jon Rauch in the ninth scored Jose Lopez to make it 5-4. Pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Jr. appeared for the first time in eight days and grounded into a fielder's choice. It would have been a double play had Morneau not missed a short-hop throw at first base.
The double play came next when pinch-hitter Casey Kotchman sent a hard grounder into Morneau's glove over the bag. Morneau then threw to shortstop J.J. Hardy for the tag on pinch-runner Michael Saunders at second. Rauch had his 13th save in 15 chances, and third in four days.
That made Francisco Liriano a winner for the first time since May 2. Liriano (5-3) allowed eight hits and three runs -- one on a wild pitch, the other two on ground balls -- in six innings. He struck out seven to end his three-game losing streak.
He didn't even know Cuddyer had moved in from right field.
"I didn't know he was there. A ground ball went to him at second base and I said, 'What's Michael doing there?"' Liriano said, smiling.
NOTES: The Twins expect Hudson to rejoin them Tuesday, after a CT scan showed no structural damage in his surgically repaired left wrist. The Twins hope their four-time Gold Glove 2B will return this week. ... Minnesota sent IF Alexi Casilla (elbow) to the DL and recalled IF Matt Tolbert from Triple-A Rochester after the game. ... The Mariners designated RHPs Kanekoa Texeira and Jesus Colome for assignment after the game, and recalled RHP Sean White and LHP Garrett Olson from Triple-A Tacoma.