Ron Gardenhire didn't hesitate. He stands behind Mike Pelfrey, has no plans to replace the veteran righthander in the Twins' rotation, the manager said.

But it sounds like he doesn't understand what's wrong, either.

"We hope we start seeing him progress," Gardenhire said. "He's trying. He's doing everything he knows how to do."

That's certainly true, but the results just don't match the intent. Pelfrey knows he needs quicker outs, shorter counts. Yet he went to 3-2 counts to four different hitters in the first two innings Tuesday, ballooning his pitch count to 56 after just six outs.

"I put myself in some bad hitter's counts," Pelfrey said. "It just hasn't been too pretty."

He straightened himself out eventually, though, and actually mowed through a seven-pitch fourth inning. But he couldn't get through the fifth, and failed for the fourth time to record a quality start.

"I felt like I got stronger as the game [went] on," Pelfrey said. "But the results aren't there."

He's not the only player struggling, of course. Aaron Hicks has had the worst month among the Twins, one of the worst months in history. But he continued to make progress Tuesday, even though he was only 1-for-4. Hicks also drew a walk in each game, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and seems to be responding to Gardenhire's move to lighten the pressure on him by moving him to eighth in the batting order.

Brian Dozier, meanwhile, went 3-for-8 with a walk as the leadoff hitter Tuesday, and stole a base besides, raising his average to .235. Slumps, in other words, don't have to be permanent.

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