Twins give Ortiz all help he needs

The righthander got groundball after groundball and won with ease as Minnesota got 15 hits to beat Seattle.

Torii Hunter: Grand slam

Torii Hunter connects for a grand slam in the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners.

Photo: Elaine Thompson, Associated Press

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SEATTLE - On the first pitch on Tuesday night, Ichiro Suzuki went from being the Sultan of Slap to the Sultan of Swat.

After that Twins righthander Ramon Ortiz pitched like the nickname given to him when he came up with the Angels -- Little Pedro, as in Pedro Martinez.

Ortiz induced grounder after grounder, and the Twins knocked around Mariners starter Jeff Weaver en route to an 11-2 victory at Safeco Field.

Ortiz joined the ranks of the handful of 3-0 pitchers in baseball with an exhibition of pitching down and in. He held Seattle to two runs on eight hits with no walks or strikeouts.

The Twins tied a team record for doubles with eight and got a grand slam by Torii Hunter.

Hunter wasn't around for the late innings. Raul Ibanez sent a fly ball to center in the sixth that Hunter initially broke back on. Hunter tried to race to make the catch but missed the ball and took a tumble.

Hunter batted in the top of the seventh, grounding out to third to end the inning. But he came out of the game after that and was diagnosed with a bruised left shoulder.

"Obviously he jammed it a little bit when he was out there. And his first swing he felt a little sore. He told me he would come in tomorrow and see how he feels. ... Torii is a pretty tough guy," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

After Suzuki led off with a homer for his second consecutive game, Ortiz got a groundout to third. Jose Vidro singled to left, but Ibanez grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The grounders were a reoccurring theme on a chilly night in Seattle. He got all three outs in the second on ground balls, then got three groundouts to third baseman Luis Rodriguez in the third.

Rodriguez got the third out in the third when he threw from a sitting position to nab Suzuki by a hair at first.

Through six innings, Rodriguez, subbing for the injured Nick Punto, had nine assists -- two short of the major league record.

"Ramon was very good for us," Gardenhire said. "After the leadoff home run by Ichiro, he settled down. A lot of groundball outs. That meant the ball was sinking and he was using his breaking ball."

The Twins jumped on Weaver for two runs in the first on back-to-back doubles by Jason Tyner and Joe Mauer and a triple by Michael Cuddyer. Then the Twins scored five runs in the fifth to take a 7-1 lead.

Jason Bartlett singled and went to third on Luis Castillo's single. Tyner, who had two doubles among his three hits, followed with a RBI single to right.

With no outs, Mauer came to the plate and bunted the runners over, a head-scratching move considering the defending batting champion is at the plate, there were no outs and the Twins already were up two runs.

Cuddyer struck out for the second out, and Justin Morneau was walked intentionally.

So much for head-scratching.

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    Today's game: 9:05 p.m. at Seattle • FSN; 1500-AM

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