Perfect 10: Twins stop 9-game skid with 5-4 win over Angels
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Byung Ho Park finally had a chance to celebrate with the Minnesota Twins.
The wait was so long even the stoic slugger let down his guard.
The Twins became the last team in the major leagues to win this season, after Park drove in the go-ahead run with a double in the eighth inning for a 5-4 victory Friday night over the Los Angeles Angels.
Then he dutifully took part in the postgame dance-off the Twins made a tradition last year.
''When I was stepping into the clubhouse, I heard the music playing loud,'' Park said through his translator. ''So that made me feel good.''
Both Minnesota and Atlanta stopped nine-game losing streaks Friday. The Braves beat Miami earlier. That left the 2002 Detroit Tigers with the dishonor of being the last team to start a season 0-10 or worse.
''The energy was there,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ''Once we got on the board a couple times, obviously we saw the fight to find a way to win.''
Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun homered for the Angels, whose four-game winning streak ended.
Miguel Sano and Trevor Plouffe hit consecutive RBI doubles in the sixth off Angels starter Garrett Richards, the third multi-run inning for the Twins this season. This was the first time they topped three runs in a game, but they're still last in the majors with 19 runs.
''We would have liked to win the game, obviously, but the guys are playing good defense, we're swinging the bat and we're pitching well,'' Richards said. ''Good for them, I guess.''
Park, the 29-year-old Korean slugger making his major league debut this season, knocked in Plouffe with his one-out hit off Fernando Salas (0-1) for his second RBI.
''I'm not really the body language guy. I try to keep it always calm and quiet,'' Park said, admitting to an uncharacteristic outburst on second base: ''Without thinking I was kind of throwing my hands in the air. A little scream right there, it just came. That's how much it meant.''
Eduardo Nunez went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Casey Fien (1-0) picked up the victory after getting the last out of the eighth inning with runners at the corners, and Kevin Jepsen worked a hitless ninth for his first save.
''We're going to get through. We're going to be back. We have a great group, really good players they put together, and things are going to change,'' said Nunez, who is batting .778 after subbing for resting regular Brian Dozier.
Twins starter Tommy Milone didn't allow a run until Yunel Escobar's RBI double in the sixth, but after the Twins gave him the lead the left-hander lost it five minutes later in the seventh inning on the long balls by Pujols and Calhoun sandwiched around a walk.
Nunez was a significant spark in the Twins' rally.
Joe Mauer smacked a single into left-center in the seventh, and Nunez raced around third base, his helmet flying off as usual. After sliding into the plate with the tying run, Nunez popped right up, raised both arms and excitedly pointed at Mauer in appreciation.
Hit by a pitch on the left elbow to start the sixth, Nunez was also whacked in the face by Sano's elbow, when the two converged on a bloop double by Escobar in the fourth inning. Sano also clipped Nunez's calf in the collision.
''He got a lot of TV time with injuries tonight,'' Molitor quipped. ''He's keeping me in shape.''
When the ball rolled away from Nunez and Sano after the fourth-inning crash, Mauer alertly sprinted out to retrieve it in right field. Displaying the arm that drew him a football scholarship offer from Florida State, the first baseman fired a perfect strike to third for the out on an advancing Escobar.
TWINS BULLPEN MOVE
The Twins placed LHP Fernando Abad on the bereavement leave list so he can attend the funeral for his grandmother. He'll rejoin the team Monday, so a replacement reliever will be recalled from the minors before the game Saturday.
Angels: LHPs C.J. Wilson (left shoulder) and Andrew Heaney (left flexor muscle) have been playing catch, but neither member of the rotation has progressed far enough in their recovery to be cleared to throw from a mound.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton wasn't ready to hit yet with his bruised left hand, but he entered for defense in the ninth.
Angels: RHP Jered Weaver (1-0, 1.50 ERA) will make his second start of the season Saturday. He's 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 16 career appearances against the Twins, including a no-hitter on May 2, 2012.
Twins: RHP Ricky Nolasco (0-0, 1.29 ERA) will take the mound for the matinee. He had a stellar first turn, allowing only one run and three hits over seven innings.