Twins win eighth straight game
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Francisco Liriano matched a season high with 11 strikeouts, Jason Kubel snapped out of a slump with a three-run double Sunday and the streaking Minnesota Twins beat the struggling Seattle Mariners 4-0 for the second consecutive day.
Playing without sluggers Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, the Twins won their eighth straight game and completed a three-game sweep of the Mariners. They remained a half-game behind the first-place Chicago White Sox in the American League Central race.
The Mariners, who managed three runs in the series, lost their seventh in a row and fell to 15-39 on the road.
Kubel ended an 0-for-13 slide with a bases-clearing double in the sixth inning. Danny Valencia followed with an RBI single.
Liriano (10-7) went seven innings to extend his shutout streak to 21 straight. He has allowed only two runs in his last 28Xc innings pitched since giving up seven runs in less than two innings at Detroit on July 9.
The left-hander looked dominant early, striking out the side in the second and fourth. The Mariners mounted their only real threat against him in the fifth when they had runners at the corners with two outs. But Liriano induced Ichiro Suzuki into a weak comebacker.
Jon Rauch threw a scoreless eighth for Minnesota and Matt Guerrier set the Mariners down in order in the ninth.
Luke French (0-2) made his second start of the season for Seattle and held his own against a Twins lineup lacking its two biggest stars. French held Minnesota scoreless through five innings before getting into trouble in the sixth.
He gave up a single to Alexi Casilla and a bloop double to Delmon Young. Michael Cuddyer was intentionally walked to load the bases for Kubel, who just missed his third grand slam of the season.
NOTES: Seattle has used 27 different lineups in its last 27 games. ... Young has an 11-game hitting streak. ... Morneau (concussion) took batting practice indoors instead of on the field, as originally planned. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Morneau wanted to wait until the team left for its upcoming 10-game road trip before hitting outdoors again. "He wants to just kind of ease into it," Gardenhire said. "He didn't want to be center stage. He got his work in. He feels good." ... Gardenhire said Mauer was feeling some soreness in his right shoulder after receiving a cortisone shot the night before, although he said the reigning AL MVP might be available to DH on Monday at Tampa Bay. ... Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu held out 3B Jose Lopez (hamstring) again as a precaution. He said Lopez would likely play during the team's nine-game homestand.