Dozier's home run, Deduno's pitching lift Twins over .500

The second baseman’s three-run shot, along with Samuel Deduno’s pitching, kept the team on a roll.

Brian Dozier doesn’t like talking about being a power hitter, but he spoke up Saturday about the state of the team.

“We had a lot of close ballgames,” he said. “But if you asked this question last year it would be completely different. We are winning these games. It’s a whole different squad, and good teams win close games.”

The Twins held off Seattle 4-3 at Target Field, offering the latest example that they aren’t the wreck they were last season. Samuel Deduno pitched six strong innings, Dozier hit his 11th homer, a three-run blast in the fifth. And Glen Perkins came on for the third consecutive game to earn the save and take over the American League lead. The Twins have won three in a row and five of their past six.

Michael Saunders brought Seattle within 4-3 with a home run in the eighth off Jared Burton, but the Twins held the score right there. They are getting good at this. In their past 12 games, the Twins are 6-1 in one-run decisions.

“Some pretty exciting baseball,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

For their efforts, the Twins improved to 21-20. This is the latest they have been over .500 since the end of the 2010 season, when they went 94-68.

“Everything is going good,” Dozier said. “We are clicking on all cylinders.”

Dozier led off the first with a single to left and eventually scored on Kurt Suzuki’s double — he was the cleanup hitter Saturday — to put the Twins ahead 1-0.

The only real trouble Deduno faced came in the third, when he walked Brad Miller, gave up an RBI triple to James Jones and a sacrifice fly to Saunders. Deduno gave up two runs on two hits and two walks with four strikeouts to win his first game since Aug. 23. Because Deduno is coming off shoulder surgery, he was removed after six innings and 95 pitches.

“He had a lot of movement on his fastball, and he was locating it,” Jones said. “Against the lefties, he was coming in on us a lot. And he had good movement on his cutter.”

Dozier’s winning home run came after Aaron Hicks and Eduardo Escobar began the fifth inning with singles, putting runners on first and third.

“You are green light, ready to fire on anything over the plate,” Dozier said of the situation.

And he jumped on a 1-0 curveball from Mariners lefthander Roenis Elias that was ankle-high and drove it into the seats just left of the bullpens for a three-run homer and 4-2 lead. Dozier homered on Friday on a pitch up and out of the strike zone.

Dozier is batting .318 with four homers and 16 RBI over his past 17 games.

“One night you throw a ball that felt like it was neck level, and he stays on top and hits it out,” Mariners catcher Mike Zunino said. “The next night, you throw one down, and he was able to drop the head [of the bat] and elevate it. Sometimes, when guys are seeing the ball well, you’ve just got to tip your cap to them.”

That’s how the Twins are rolling right now.

“Keep riding this little wave,” Dozier said. “I think everything is going good. The pitching is doing great, we’re playing good defense and we are driving people in.’’

 

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