Twins get a hit, but slide continues

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2012 - 5:09 AM

There was no repeat no-hitter for Jered Weaver, only another inept performance by the lowly Twins.

A futile pattern continues to repeat itself for the Twins.

Their pitchers wobble through the early innings. Their offense flatlines. By mid-game, the score is lopsided. And by game's end, the Twins clubhouse is as quiet as a morgue.

Monday night offered a different subplot, with Angels pitcher Jered Weaver trying to become the first major leaguer since 1938 to pitch consecutive no-hitters, but that suspense ended with Erik Komatsu's third-inning single.

The rest of the 8-3 loss to Los Angeles seemed like another bad rerun for an announced crowd of 31,382 at Target Field, as the Twins fell for the 12th time in 14 games.

Francisco Liriano (0-5) struggled for the sixth start in a row, giving up four earned runs in five innings, which actually lowered his ERA to 9.45.

Afterward, manager Ron Gardenhire said all the Twins can do is "keep running [Liriano] out there." They already have replaced one starter, subbing out Liam Hendriks (0-2, 9.00) for Scott Diamond, who pitches Tuesday.

"You don't have enough people to change all your starters," Gardenhire said. "Frankie's gotta get it done. He's gotta figure it out."

The Angels grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning and stretched it to 3-0 in the third, when Liriano served up a two-run homer to Alberto Callaspo. Peter Bourjos added a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, making it 4-0.

Sound familiar? That's because the Twins have trailed by scores of either 2-0, 3-0 or 4-0 after the third inning in nine of their past 13 games. That's an indictment on their starting pitching staff, which is 4-17 with a 6.75 ERA for the season, but the Twins offense also has failed to produce a run before the fifth inning in seven consecutive games.

The offense tends to waken late in games, often when it's too late. This time, the Twins trailed 5-1 in the eighth before Joe Mauer hit an RBI single -- breaking his 0-for-12 skid -- and Ryan Doumit added a sacrifice fly.

But with Mauer on second base, Danny Valencia took a called third strike, ending the inning and extending his hitless streak to 17 at-bats. Two ninth-inning Twins errors enabled the Angels to add three runs to pull away.

"That seems to be kind of the same story every day -- battling hard to get back in the game, and the other team comes back and answers," Twins infielder Jamey Carroll said. "Obviously, it's frustrating and not the way you want it to be."

Weaver (5-0) lasted six innings in his first start since Wednesday's no-hitter in Anaheim, Calif., a 9-0 loss for the Twins. In his bid to match Johnny Vander Meer's feat from 1938, Weaver retired the first six Twins batters before Trevor Plouffe led off the third inning with a walk.

Then Komatsu, an outfielder the Twins claimed off waivers Friday, hit a sharp single up the middle, ending a 10-pitch at-bat. Fans mockingly gave the Twins a standing ovation. But Weaver pitched out of that inning and limited the Twins to one run in the fifth, when they had the bases loaded with no outs.

"We definitely had better at-bats against him and made him work a little bit harder," Gardenhire said. "He found a way to get out of a couple jams. That's what these guys that win all these games are all about. They find a way even when they may not have their best stuff."

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