Strong start, long ball form right formula

An aggressive Carlos Silva gave the bullpen a breather and Justin Morneau provided runs and laughs -- with a homer and a belly-flop into first -- in a victory over the Blue Jays.

The Twins tried extra batting practice and then more fielding practice, then meetings and haircuts -- everything short of spitting in the Mississippi River -- to change their luck as they tumbled down the American League Central standings.

After beating Toronto 4-2 on Sunday at the Metrodome to win their third consecutive series, outfielder Michael Cuddyer revealed what needed to change to get the Twins to play their best stretch of ball in a month.

"I think we're getting our mentality back that we should be able to win every game," Cuddyer said. "Obviously we aren't going to win every game, but it's a mentality I didn't feel we had before that Milwaukee series."

The Twins went to Milwaukee after being swept in Cleveland on May 15-17 and have won all three series since then.

They have scored at least four runs in nine consecutive games since then, and the team is 19-7 when it scores at least four.

Righthander Carlos Silva pitched into the eighth inning as he held Toronto to two runs on six hits, saving a bullpen that had been overworked, especially because of Saturday's 13-inning loss in which every available reliever was used.

Justin Morneau led the Twins with an upper-deck home run in the sixth inning and three RBI. He has six homers in his past 12 games.

The Twins (24-25) have won four of their past five and six of their past nine. They haven't been at .500 since 17-17 on May 10.

"This team is starting to bounce back pretty good and is playing some pretty decent baseball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

And the Twins are getting healthier, too. All signs point to catcher Joe Mauer returning from a strained left quadriceps muscle sometime during the three-game series starting today against the White Sox.

"I think, barring setbacks, that's realistic," Gardenhire said.

Silva (3-5) let most of the bullpen rest with 7 1/3 strong innings Sunday, outpitching Toronto's A.J. Burnett (5-4) with a more aggressive plan. After shying away from his fastball in recent outings, Silva attacked with his sinker and was willing to throw inside.

Of Silva's 97 pitches, 70 were fastballs, 20 were changeups and the rest were sliders. He threw more changeups than fastballs two outings ago.

"He pitched today," pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "That was impressive."It was great to see Carlos come out and deal like that," Twins outfielder Torii Hunter said.

The Twins took a 2-1 lead in the third when Morneau chopped the ball off the plate and dived into -- actually onto -- first base as Burnett threw wildly, allowing two runs to score.

"It was a belly-flop, not really a dive," Gardenhire said.

Morneau later crushed a 94-miles-per-hour fastball by Burnett 433 feet to right for a two-run homer and a 4-1 lead in the sixth.

Silva gave up a pinch-hit homer to Adam Lind in the eighth to make it 4-2 before Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan finished up in front of an announced crowd of 25,781.

"To come back and beat a pitcher of that caliber on the other side, that's impressive," Gardenhire said.

  • TWINS 4, TORONTO 2

    Up next: 1:10 p.m. today vs. Chicago White Sox

    Metrodome • TV: FSN; radio: 1500-AM

    Preview of three-game series: C9

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