Mauer, Sano homer again; Twins beat Mariners 5-4 for sweep
SEATTLE (AP) Joe Mauer has been helping Minnesota end skids for over a decade. The hope is Miguel Sano plays that role for years to come.
This weekend, that duo combined to power the Twins to an unexpected sweep.
Mauer and Sano both homered for a third straight game and Minnesota polished off a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners with a 5-4 victory on Sunday.
Mauer and Sano hit back-to-back home runs into the bullpens behind left field for a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Sano has homered in four consecutive games, all Minnesota wins.
The Twins had lost eight of 10 heading into this series and still have the worst record in the American League at 15-34.
Ricky Nolasco allowed two runs on three hits over six innings and may have saved his rotation spot with the Twins. He engineered his best start in over a month amid speculation that he could lose his place in the rotation when Kyle Gibson returns from the disabled list.
''I would have liked to be a little more efficient,'' Nolasco (2-3) said. ''... I was commanding the fastball pretty good, had some (velocity) going.''
Nolasco rebounded from his worst start of the season his last time out. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings with six runs allowed on eight hits to the Kansas City Royals. Entering Sunday, Nolasco was carrying an 8.14 ERA in May.
''He made enough pitches,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ''It seems like he's one of those guys that has a little trouble settling into a rhythm, but once he gets a little feel, the outs can start coming quickly. Good outing.''
The Twins homered three times off starter Taijuan Walker (2-5), including the blasts from Mauer and Sano.
''I tried to sneak a couple offspeed pitches by them and they got them,'' Walker said.
After Byung Ho Park's walk, Juan Centeno hit a two-out double to drive in another run to extend Minnesota's lead in the fourth. A single, hit batter and walk by Walker to load the bases in the fifth inning brought his day to a close. His five earned runs marked a season high.
A solo home run by Robinson Cano gave the Mariners an early 1-0 advantage and tied Cano for the league lead in home runs with his 15th.
Kevin Jepsen got his sixth save despite allowing two runs.
Twins 2B Brian Dozier was hit in the head by Walker's pitch in the fifth inning. After briefly gathering himself, he remained in the game and ran to first base with a smile on his face. The pitch glanced off Dozier's helmet but didn't cause any significant damage. ''It kind of grazed the side of my neck and my head. That's what hit my helmet off, but I'm fine,'' Dozier said.
The Mariners reacquired slugging prospect Patrick Kivlehan from the Texas Rangers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. RHP Evan Scribner was moved to the 60-day disabled list to clear room on the 40-man roster. Kivlehan, RHP Tom Wilhemsen and OF James Jones were traded to the Rangers in exchange for OF Leonys Martin and RHP Anthony Bass in November. The Rangers had designated Kivlehan for assignment last week.
Twins: C Kurt Suzuki was not in the starting lineup but was available to play Sunday after experiencing concussion-like symptoms in Friday's game. He's still day-to-day. ... 3B Trevor Plouffe will be re-evaluated tomorrow in Oakland. He is also day-to-day after suffering a bone bruise
Mariners: SS Ketel Marte took batting practice in the cage on Sunday. He said he feels back to normal after suffering a sprained left thumb last weekend in Cincinnati. Marte is expected to play four games with Triple-A Tacoma beginning Tuesday and be activated from the disabled list on June 6.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (1-3, 4.17 ERA) will make his ninth start of the season against Oakland on Monday. Santana allowed a season-high six earned runs in his last start against the Kansas City Royals.
Mariners: RHP Nathan Karns (4-1, 3.53 ERA) has gone at least five innings with three runs or fewer allowed in six consecutive starts. Karns will get the ball against the San Diego Padres on Monday.