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Minnesota's Luke Hughes, left, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka celebrated after scoring against the Giants during the first inning Tuesday.

Ben Margot, Associated Press

Twins ride 8-run first to victory

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • June 22, 2011 - 8:13 AM

SAN FRANCISCO - Giants lefthander Madison Bumgarner kept throwing bad pitches Tuesday, and it quickly became the Bash by the Bay.

Twins hitters drilled Bumgarner's offerings all over AT&T Park. Shots down the line. Bouncers through the infield. Drives over the outfield.

Alexi Casilla doubled. So did Michael Cuddyer. And Danny Valencia. Tsuyoshi Nishioka's was a blast over the center fielder's head. And Ben Revere's two-bagger put an exclamation point on the fun.

Twins players circled the bases. Giants fans booed. Many were just arriving to the game -- this is California, you know -- and walked into a park of stunned and angry people.

The Twins were grinning, and winning, on their way to a 9-2 rout over the defending World Series champions behind a first inning that was one for the books.

"Kind of one of those snowball effects,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Everybody got involved and just kept rolling through there.''

The Twins tied a major league mark with eight hits to start the game. The Cubs were the last team to do it, Sept. 8, 2009, against Pittsburgh.

Fans who like to watch pitchers hit take note: Twins starter Carl Pavano ended the run of hits when he struck out feebly to give Bumgarner a reprieve.

No worries. Revere followed with his double to left that drove in the seventh and eighth runs of the inning and sent the young southpaw to the showers. The nine hits in the inning were one short of the club record in any inning. Bumgarner was replaced by Guillermo Mota.

It was the first time a team opened a game with eight consecutive hits and all eight hitters scoring since the Yankees did it to the Orioles on Sept. 25, 1990.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Twins last had nine hits in an inning on July 21, 2004, against Tampa Bay. And it was their first eight-run inning since Aug. 23, 2009, at Kansas City.

The Twins have won eight consecutive games and 15 of their past 17. The victory, coupled with Cleveland's loss to Colorado, put the Twins 6 1/2 games behind the AL Central-leading Indians. On June 1, the Twins were 16 1/2 games out of first.

The hot streak began June 2 with a 5-3 victory over Kansas City during which they scored a run in the first inning. The Twins have scored in the first inning seven times during their run of dominance, but nothing like they did Tuesday.

"When you get on a roll and guys are swinging a little bit better, there's confidence and you carry it out on the field,'' Gardenhire said. "The top guys have been getting on base, and when Alexi and Ben have been getting on the base, we have been able to move them around a little bit.''

Pavano was not pleased with the way he pitched despite improving to 5-5, shutting out the Giants through six innings working eight innings. He felt he took a step backward after winning two of this previous three starts.

"The guys backed me up today with making some plays and scoring eight runs [in the first inning],'' Pavano said. "I could never really relax. I was struggling to find my pitches during the game.''

The challenge for the Twins will be to sustain their offense. They've been waiting for injured regulars to get healthy -- but the bats they have now are heating up.

Cuddyer has a double in four consecutive games. Casilla on Tuesday homered for the second consecutive game with a blast to right in the ninth inning.

"We're still not out of the woods,'' Gardenhire said. "We're still under .500 and we're battling our way back and playing good baseball right now.''

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