MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A banner May had given way to a horrible June, and Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor was desperate for a win.
That meant going to closer Glen Perkins in the eighth inning. The All-Star made it interesting, but stayed perfect.
Perkins pitched four outs to improve to 23 for 23 in save chances and Tommy Milone gave up one run in seven innings to help the Twins squeak out a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.
“He was rested,” Molitor said. “And it seemed like a night where we really need a win.”
Milone (3-1) gave up five hits and struck out five and Eduardo Nunez had two hits and two RBIs to help the reeling Twins, who had lost seven of their previous eight games.
Carlos Martinez (7-3) gave up two runs — one earned — on five hits and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings for the Cardinals, who are embroiled in a federal investigation into allegations that members of the team’s baseball operations hacked into the Houston Astros’ personnel database.
The Cardinals had two runners on with no outs in the ninth, but Perkins struck out Mark Reynolds and Randal Grichuk and got Yadier Molina to ground out to end it.
“Whether it’s three outs or four outs, it doesn’t matter,” Perkins said. “I want to win and we did tonight.”
The Cardinals have spent the last two days swimming in deep water after news broke that the FBI was conducting an investigation into the hacking allegations involving a database compiled by former Cardinals executive Jeff Luhnow, now the Astros’ GM.
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt and GM John Mozeliak responded forcefully on Wednesday, saying that they had no knowledge of any such actions and were conducting an internal review of their own to get to determine if there was any truth to the allegations.
Until then, Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny vowed not to let the headline-grabbing allegations, which have called into question the integrity of one of baseball’s model franchises, distract the team from the torrid pace it has set to start this season. The Cardinals entered the game with the best record in the big leagues, having beaten the Twins at home on Tuesday on the day the investigation was revealed by the New York Times.
They jumped on Milone in the second inning, getting an RBI single from Jason Heyward for a 1-0 lead.
But Reynolds was charged with an error for being unable to scoop a low pickoff attempt from Martinez at first base, which allowed Trevor Plouffe to score from third and put Eddie Rosario in position to score on a sacrifice fly from Nunez to give the Twins a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
“You can’t give free bases,” Matheny said. “If you don’t pay any attention to the guy at first base then you’ve got no chance at a double play. He’s got to. He’s a great athlete. He can do that all day long, just made a bad throw.”
A combination of the Cardinals’ enthusiastic fan base and the home debut of highly touted Twins prospect Byron Buxton led to an announced crowd of 34,381, the third-largest of the season at Target Field.
Buxton went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, but did make a nice running catch at the warning track in the third inning.
Struggling star Joe Mauer was moved from third in the order to second. He had a double in the first inning, but struck out twice, including with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh.
Twins: GM Terry Ryan said RHP Ricky Nolasco, on the disabled list with an ankle injury, was being fitted for orthotics. The club was hopeful that the orthotics would help relieve what has been a recurring for issue for him.
The Twins send RHP Mike Pelfrey (5-3, 3.18) to the mound to finish the four-game split series against LHP Jaime Garcia (2-3, 2.06). Pelfrey had been a pleasant surprise for the Twins through 11 starts, but was tagged for eight runs on 11 hits in a loss to the Rangers his last time out. Garcia missed the first 40 games while recovering from thoracic outlet surgery. He has not walked a batter in his last four starts.
The Twins signed first-round draft pick Tyler Jay, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Illinois. Jay was the sixth overall pick and the Twins will start him at Class-A Fort Myers in a relief role. GM Terry Ryan said Jay could eventually be converted to a starter, but not this season.
Minnesota also released RHP Tim Stauffer after designating him for assignment on June 10.
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