September 21, 2014

After picking up a win on the first day of September, Phil Hughes appeared to have an outside shot at matching his career high total with three victories to go and four starts remaining.

Now the right-hander will settle for becoming the Minnesota Twins' first 16-game winner in four years.

Although they could be without injured first baseman Joe Mauer, Hughes will try to lead the Twins to only their second series win since mid-August on Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hughes (15-10, 3.61 ERA) won for the fifth time in six starts on Sept. 1, allowing no earned runs and five hits over eight innings in a 6-4 victory at AL East champion Baltimore.

At that pace, he looked as though he might make a run at the 18 wins he had with the New York Yankees in 2010.

Hughes, however, hasn't won since despite extending his streak of at least seven innings pitched in eight straight starts. He's 0-1 with a 4.29 ERA in his last three after giving up four runs over seven in Friday's 5-4, 10-inning home win over Cleveland.

The 28-year-old has 181 strikeouts and only 16 walks in a career-high 201 2-3 innings. He has a chance to post the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of all time at 11.3, which is currently ahead of Bret Saberhagen's 11.0 set in 1994.

"That's something I take pride in," he told MLB's official website. "If they're going to get on, they need to earn their way on."

Hughes, who went 4-14 with the Yankees in 2013, can become the first Twins' starter to reach 16 wins since Carl Pavano went 17-11 in 2010. He's pitched well at home, going 3-0 with a 2.62 ERA with 36 strikeouts and one walk in his last five starts.

In his only career outing versus Arizona, Hughes allowed two runs over seven innings in a 6-2, 12-inning loss while with the Yankees on April 18, 2013.

The Twins (67-90) might have to play without Mauer after he was struck by a pitch in Tuesday's 6-3 win that evened this three-game set. The former All-Star catcher, hitting a career-low .276, is day to day with a bruised right elbow.

The Diamondbacks have averaged 2.5 runs and hit .185 with runners in scoring position while losing 11 of 12 on the road.

MLB-worst Arizona (63-95) also has dropped 12 of Vidal Nuno's 13 starts while providing him with only 30 runs of support since he came over in a trade with the Yankees in July.

Nuno (0-6, 3.78) was on the verge of earning his first win with the Diamondbacks on Thursday, giving up three runs over 5 1-3 innings before the bullpen blew his lead in a 7-6 loss at Colorado.

"I feel sorry for V," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's pitched really good for us."

The left-hander allowed four runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 6-1 loss in his only career start against the Twins on May 30. Trevor Plouffe homered off him in that contest and matched a career high with four hits Tuesday.

Arizona's Aaron Hill is day to day with a dislocated right pinky finger. He's just 4 for 18 lifetime against Hughes.

Ender Inciarte had his second career four-hit effort Tuesday, leaving him with a .429 average in his last eight contests.

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