SAN DIEGO (AP) — Same pitcher, different results.
Minnesota’s Phil Hughes looks little like the pitcher he was last year with the Yankees.
Hughes threw seven shutout innings and Trevor Plouffe homered in the Twins’ 2-0 victory over the punchless San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.
“Right now he is in that mode where he just trusts his stuff,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s relaxed a little bit now and he just feels it coming out of his hand.”
Padres starter Tyson Ross (5-4) nearly matched Hughes, allowing one run on three hits over seven innings, walking three and striking out eight.
Chris Parmelee’s sacrifice fly to left in the sixth scored Joe Mauer and Plouffe hit his third home run in the eighth.
Glen Perkins pitched a perfect ninth to collect his 14th save in 16 chances.
Hughes (5-1) came over from the Yankees in the offseason, signing a $24 million, three-year deal after going 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA. On Wednesday, he won his fifth straight decision and didn’t walk a batter for the fifth consecutive start, while striking out seven. He relied on his fastball, cutter and an occasional curveball.
“It’s not a drastic difference,” said Hughes, who has gone 147 batters without a issuing a walk. “I’m just attacking the strike zone and staying aggressive and it has been working out the last few starts.”
“I’m scattering some hits in there, but I made some good pitches, especially in sixth to get out of a tight spot. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m feeling good with my mechanics and execution and so far so good.”
The Padres’ offense so far been very bad, leading the majors with eight shut outs.
Ross struck out eight for the third consecutive start, which is one off his season-high.
“It was a tough game and Hughes did a great job,” Ross said. “It was a pitcher’s duel the whole way and they came out on top.”
Mauer walked with one out in the sixth and stole second off Rene Rivera, who threw out three runners attempting to steal in his last start Sunday in Denver. Plouffe then hit a slow chopper to third and beat Chase Headley’s throw, with Mauer moving to third.
Mauer scored on Parmelee’s sacrifice and Plouffe advanced to third on a throwing error by Headley. Ross then walked Kurt Suzuki, but escaped further damage when Jason Kubel flied out.
Ross breezed through the first five innings, allowing two singles and a walk while striking out six.
Kubel was the only Twin getting into scoring position, advancing to second after walking and stealing second in the second. Kubel was stranded when Danny Santana struck out for the first of four times in the game, and Aaron Hicks grounded out.
The Padres looked poised to tie the game in the sixth when Headley and Yonder Alonso singled with no outs. But Jedd Gyorko and Cameron Maybin grounded out and Will Venable struck out.
The Padres, who had hits in each of the first four innings, threatened in the third with two outs when Seth Smith and Headley had consecutive singles. But Alonso, who was elevated to fourth in the order, flied to center.
“His stuff was good,” Headley said. “I was just able to put a couple of good swings on him.”
Another Padres baserunner reached with two outs when Maybin collected his second hit in the fourth, but Rivera struck out to end the inning.
Smith had three of the Padres’ eight hits.
Suzuki, the Twins catcher, said Hughes has what it takes to succeed.
“He’s been pitching for some time in that big market in New York, been to the playoffs and he’s seen it all,” Suzuki said. “He knows what he wants to do and how to handle himself out there.”
NOTES: Padres manager Bud Black left immediately after the game will miss Thursday’s contest against the Cubs to attend daughter Jessie’s graduation from the University of Maryland. Black will return for Friday’s game. . OF Carlos Quentin remains sidelined with a groin injury, but will likely avoid the DL. . With 18 doubles, Plouffe is four doubles shy of last year’s career high. . Ex-Twins 3B Corey Koskie and area scout John Wilson will represent the team at the first-year player draft on June 5 . Twins RHP Kyle Gibson (4-3, 4.20) faces Giants RHP Tim Lincecum (3-3, 4.74) to open a three-game series on Friday. The Padres send LHP Eric Stults (2-4, 4.50) against Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (0-0, 2.70) on Thursday.
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