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Twins players stand along the third base line during a moment of silence to honor Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew before Tuesday's game against the Seattle Mariners.

Elaine Thompson, Associated Press

Liriano's gem helps Twins halt nine-game losing streak

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • May 18, 2011 - 7:03 AM

SEATTLE - After dealing with all the emotions of a frustrating nine-game losing streak to go along with the death of a franchise icon, the Twins finally had something good to feel about Tuesday night.

Francisco Liriano threw seven strong innings and some early offense held up in a 2-1 victory over Felix Hernandez and the Mariners, ending the Twins' worst losing streak in more than a decade.

"It was a very emotional day before the game, and very emotional after the game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

With the death of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew on Tuesday morning, the Mariners held a moment of silence before the game and also showed a video tribute for Killebrew after the first inning.

"The early part of the game, when they had the moment of silence, that was very hard," Gardenhire said.

In six career matchups, Liriano is 4-2 against Hernandez, the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner and Liriano's close friend. The Twins also won 2-1 the last time the two hooked up, on June 5, 2009, at Safeco Field.

The Twins got all their offense on Michael Cuddyer's two-out, two-run single to center in the first inning. The hit scored Matt Tolbert and Jason Kubel, making Hernandez pay for two walks.

Liriano (3-5) took over from there with the help of a nasty slider and a well-placed fastball. Making only his second start since his May 3 no-hitter in Chicago, he gave up one run over seven innings on three hits and a walk with a season-high nine strikeouts.

Glen Perkins touched 96 miles per hour on the radar gun as he pitched a scoreless eighth. Matt Capps pitched the ninth for his sixth save. A gift second out helped, as it appeared baserunner Miguel Olivo beat Danny Valencia's throw to second. Seattle manager Eric Wedge argued with umpire Jerry Meals and was ejected.

Injury updates

• Infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka continues to make progress in his recovery from a broken left fibula, but he is not quite ready to play in minor league games.

Nishioka has been working out in Fort Myers, Fla., for nearly three weeks while trying to work out the remaining soreness in the leg. He is taking batting and fielding practice daily and recently has been able to sprint.

Trainer Dave Pruemer said Nishioka is making good progress, but the Twins aren't ready to let him play games yet. Gardenhire isn't ready to say where Nishioka will play, either second base or shortstop, when he returns.

• Designated hitter Jim Thome (left oblique) got five at-bats in an extended spring training game Tuesday and will play in another game Wednesday.

• Outfielder Jason Repko (right quadriceps) went 2-for-5, including a solo home run, and scored twice in his first game of a minor league rehabilitation assignment at Class AAA Rochester.

• Lefthander Jose Mijares (left elbow strain) had a magnetic resonance imaging exam of his elbow that showed no structural damage, so he will continue his rehabilitation program.

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