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Nathan suffers a rare defeat

  • Article by: Joe Christensen
  • Star Tribune
  • April 16, 2007 - 4:50 PM

It had been so long since Joe Nathan took a loss, the Twins couldn't help but feel stunned.

He entered with a tie score in the ninth inning Sunday, and Tampa Bay scored two runs for a 6-4 victory at the Metrodome.

Nathan went 7-0 last season. His last loss had come against Texas on Sept. 6, 2005.

"I know I'm not perfect," Nathan said. "I've given up plenty of runs in my life. I've gotten my brains beaten in many times, so it's one of those things."

Nathan gave up back-to-back doubles to start the ninth Sunday, as Akinori Iwamura and Dioner Navarro both hit sliders with two-strike counts into the right field corner. Carlos Pena then pounced on Nathan's first pitch for a sharp run-scoring single up the middle.

Nathan, who is 3-for-3 in save opportunities, hadn't allowed a run this season, but he did catch a big break Thursday when Ben Zobrist singled and Carl Crawford doubled before running into a double play.

In six innings, Nathan has allowed 10 hits and two walks. Manager Ron Gardenhire didn't sound concerned.

"It happens to the best, and he's probably the best," Gardenhire said. "Sometimes it just doesn't go your way."

Third base options

So what happens if third baseman Nick Punto goes on the disabled list today because of a sprained left ankle?

Asked that question, Gardenhire reached for a coin on his desk and flipped it.

"We're not real deep there," he said. "We don't have a third baseman ready at Triple-A. We've got [Luis] Rodriguez here. We've got [Alexi] Casilla, who would definitely have to go out there and play. Look at our options at Triple-A and ad-lib. Not a good situation."

Matt Moses is the starting third baseman at Class AAA Rochester, but he needs considerable work on his defense, and he's batting .160.

"He's not ready for this," Gardenhire said.

He went on to mention Rochester infielders Glenn Williams and Tommy Watkins, but neither is on the 40-man roster.

Bonser disappointed

The Twins went 3-4 on the homestand against the Yankees and Devil Rays, and Boof Bonser pitched in two of the losses.

Sunday, he matched a career high with eight strikeouts but gave up four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. Brendan Harris and Delmon Young each hit home runs in the sixth inning, spoiling a decent outing.

"It's tough because the two outings were just brutal compared to what I know I can do," Bonser said.

Hunter regains speed

Wearing No. 42 with his socks pulled high to honor Jackie Robinson, Torii Hunter scored the tying run with a nifty headfirst slide in the seventh inning. He entered Sunday leading the majors with eight doubles and tied for the league lead with four stolen bases.

Hunter keeps saying he will steal 30 bases this year.

"All last year my ankle bothered me," he said. "I couldn't run balls out. Infield hits -- I couldn't get those. I couldn't do anything, but I kept playing, and now I feel good. It's kind of scary. I can run, so I'm going to go out there and use it."

Crain improves

Pitching coach Rick Anderson said Jesse Crain looked good in a 10-minute pregame bullpen session. Crain hasn't pitched since last Tuesday because of a sore right shoulder, but Anderson thinks he'll be ready by Tuesday.

Joe Christensen • jchristensen@startribune.com

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