Johan Santana Helps Twins Sweep Mariners

Friday, April 20th 2007, 7:06 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ Playing some road games appears to be the perfect solution for the Minnesota Twins' recent struggles.

Johan Santana gave up two early runs then dominated as usual before Joe Nathan cut off a late rally in Minnesota's 6-5 victory that finished the Twins' first three-game sweep in Seattle in nearly 11 years.

Minnesota can usually rely on a strong home-field advantage at the Metrodome every year, posting a .611 winning percentage there the previous six seasons. However, the Twins were swept at home last week by the New York Yankees, then split a four-game series there against Tampa Bay.

The Devil Rays even beat Santana, handing the Twins their first loss in the two-time Cy Young Award winner's last 25 starts at home.

``Yeah, we have been a little shaky at home,'' said backup catcher Mike Redmond, who had a two-run single in the seventh inning off Julio Mateo on Thursday to break open a 3-2 game. ``Once we relax at home, we'll feel we can compete with anybody.''

Minnesota is 4-1 in road games this season and opens a weekend series at Kansas City on Friday night. Then the Twins _ gasp! _ head back home to play Cleveland and the Royals next week.

Santana (3-1) improved to 7-1 against the Mariners by using his fastballs on both sides of the plate, while working in his changeup and slider. He allowed four hits and struck out seven in seven innings, making that 4-2 loss to the Devil Rays on April 13 _ in which he had 10 strikeouts.

``Johan was Johan,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

In other AL games Thursday, it was: Boston 5, Toronto 3; New York 8, Cleveland 6; and Chicago 6, Texas 4.

Michael Cuddyer hit a two-run double before Redmond's two-run single for the Twins, who have won six of eight. They had last swept three games at Seattle from Aug. 9-11, 1996.

``From the first game consistently through the series, everything worked,'' said Santana, who walked one.

Raul Ibanez had an RBI single in the first, Yuniesky Betancourt homered leading off the third _ and Santana gave up just one hit after that. During one stretch, he threw nine consecutive first-pitch strikes.

``He's always tough,'' Ibanez said. ``You have to jump on him early, because he gets stronger as the game goes on.''

The Mariners didn't do enough early and came up short late. They trailed by a run after Ibanez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth off Pat Neshek. Nathan relieved, and Richie Sexson reached on a fly ball to right that dropped for a double when Cuddyer lost it in front of him in the late-afternoon sun.

``These 3:30 games don't make much sense to me,'' Cuddyer said.

Nathan struck out Jose Guillen for his fifth save in five chances.

All 10 Twins who batted had a hit. The 10th batter, Alexi Casilla entered the game in the fifth inning as a pinch runner after Luis Castillo pulled up rounding first base on a double with strained left quadriceps.

Jarrod Washburn (0-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. He led 2-1 in the seventh, before the Mariners gave up five runs.

Jason Bartlett, the No. 9 hitter, bunted to third base for a single leading off. Casilla, attempting a sacrifice bunt, pushed the ball past Washburn, who was not at first base to receive a throw from first baseman Sexson, for another single.

After a sacrifice bunt and intentional walk, Cuddyer hit a two-run double off the left-field wall against Julio Mateo to that put Minnesota up 3-2. Justin Morneau was intentionally walked to reload the bases, and Redmond singled to make it 5-2. Josh Rabe added an RBI grounder.

Yankees 8, Indians 6

Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer that capped a comeback from a four-run deficit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to help New York complete a three-game sweep.

Rodriguez, who homered for the third straight game, increased his major league-leading totals to 10 homers and 26 RBIs.

Joe Borowski (0-1) had two outs and none on and three times came within a strike of sealing a win. But he allowed Josh Phelps' homer, Jorge Posada's single, Johnny Damon's walk and RBI singles by Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu before Rodriguez connected.

Sean Henn (1-0) pitched one inning, following Chase Wright and Kei Igawa to become the third Yankees rookie in three games to get his first major league win.

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3

Manny Ramirez hit a tying, two-run homer in the eighth off Shaun Marcum (1-1), Alex Cora had a go-ahead triple in the ninth against Jason Frasor and Coco Crisp followed with a sacrifice fly for visiting Boston.

Toronto threatened in the bottom half of the eighth when Vernon Wells doubled off Mike Timlin (1-0) leading off and advanced on Frank Thomas' groundout. Lyle Overbay was walked intentionally to bring up Aaron Hill, who grounded into a double play.

Jonathan Papelbon got three outs for his fourth save, and the Red Sox won for the fifth time in six games.

White Sox 6, Rangers 4

Joe Crede hit an RBI single off Scott Feldman (1-1) to break a 3-3 tie in the eighth, and Rob Mackowiak followed with a two-run homer for host Chicago.

A.J. Pierzynski hit a three-run homer in the fourth and Javier Vazquez and four relievers combined on a five-hitter, with Matt Thornton (1-1) pitching a scoreless eighth and Bobby Jenks finishing for his fourth save

Sammy Sosa hit his 592nd homer, his fourth of the season for Texas.