Twins 4, Angels 0

A successful homestand has not made the Minnesota Twins
complacent.

Scott Baker pitched seven shutout innings, Michael Cuddyer had a
bases-loaded double, and the Twins beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-0
Sunday night.

Danny Valencia homered for the Twins, who took two of three from
Los Angeles.

Minnesota went 7-2 on its nine-game homestand to increase its
lead in the AL Central to five games over struggling Chicago. The
White Sox lost three extra-inning games on a 2-4 road trip,
including Sunday in Kansas City.

”We’ve got more than a month left and every one of them
counts,” Valencia said. ”The last couple of years we’ve played a
Game 163, and hopefully we can avoid that this year.”

Minnesota opens a crucial four-game series Monday at AL
West-leading Texas.

”It doesn’t matter who we play. If it’s Texas, Kansas City,
Baltimore, whoever, they’re all big games right now,” Cuddyer
said.

Valencia homered to open the fifth against Jered Weaver (11-9).
Orlando Hudson tripled with two outs, and Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel
walked to load the bases. Cuddyer fouled off five straight pitches
with two strikes before hitting a ball to left-center that rolled
to the wall. Cuddyer, now 3-for-18 lifetime against Weaver, was
tagged out in a rundown trying to go to third.

”It was apparent from the get-go I was in swing mode. He
probably could have rolled it up there and I would have struck
out,” Cuddyer said. ”Fortunately, he didn’t do that.”

That was plenty of support for Baker (11-9), who bounced back
from a pair of poor performances where he left the ball up in the
zone. He allowed eight earned runs in 10 2-3 innings in his
previous two starts – both against Chicago.

In his seven innings, Baker allowed five hits, struck out three
and walked one. He allowed a baserunner in six of those innings,
but none got past second base. Of the last 12 batters Baker faced,
none got hits and two walked.

His biggest change was being able to make mechanical adjustments
throughout the game.

”This game is hard enough as it is, and if you’re doing
everything just the way you want to, it’s tough to execute
pitches,” said Baker, who beat Los Angeles for the first time in
nine career starts. ”I really just tried to simplify things.
Instead of worrying about making a pitch, I just tried to make sure
I was doing it right mechanically and whatever happened,
happened.”

Jesse Crain pitched a scoreless eighth and Matt Capps a perfect
ninth for Minnesota.

Alberto Callaspo and Hideki Matsui each had two hits for Los
Angeles, which has lost five of seven. The Angels are 7-19 in their
last 26 road games, and have not won consecutive games away from
Angel Stadium since June 18-19.

Weaver, who struggled to quickly get hitters out throughout his
six-inning, 107-pitch outing, allowed six hits, struck out three,
but tied a season high with four walks. It was the second-straight
rough outing for Weaver, who gave up six runs in five innings
Tuesday in Boston. He allowed four earned runs in his previous four
starts combined.

”When you fall behind these guys and have to nit pick to get
back in the count and worry about giving up a home run, that could
be the end of the game. It’s not a good feeling,” he said. ”I
tried to battle out there as much as I can, they got me for four
runs and we lost. Thats all there is to it.”

He twice allowed the leadoff man to get on in the first three
innings, but neither scored. Jim Thome led off the second with a
double, but was later thrown out by Howie Kendrick trying to score
on a ground out. Hudson walked to start the third, but was erased
on a double play – one of seven straight Minnesota batters who
failed to hit the ball out of the infield

In his major league debut, Jordan Walden pitched a scoreless
eighth inning for Los Angeles, including strikeouts of Cuddyer and
Thome. Walden was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake Sunday when the
Angels placed infielder Maicer Izturis on the 15-day disabled list
with right shoulder inflammation.

”That was a pretty big lineup I had to face,” Walden said.
”Pretty crazy for a debut.”

NOTES: Mauer walked three times. … Minnesota starter Nick
Blackburn, recalled Saturday when Kevin Slowey went on the disabled
list with a strained right triceps, is scheduled to start Monday in
Texas. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Francisco Liriano will get two
extra days off between starts and will throw a light bullpen
session Monday. … Callaspo hit safely in 17 of his past 18 games
against Minnesota, and in 40 of 44 career games.