Braves jump out to 7-0 lead, hold on to defeat Twins 9-7

MINNEAPOLIS — One night after a Minnesota starting pitcher went the distance, Twins right-hander Tyler Duffey barely lasted an inning.

Duffey was chased by Atlanta after recording just four outs, giving up five runs and eight hits in a 9-7 loss Wednesday.

The short outing for Duffey was his second straight — he went just 2 1/3 innings his last time out — and came on the heels of a complete game from Ervin Santana. Though Santana went nine innings Tuesday, he wound up with a 2-0 loss.

"I’m kind of thankful he did that because we had the bullpen to clean up my mess," Duffey said of Santana. "Next time around, I’ve got to try to be better."

Everything Duffey was hit hard by the Braves, and his ERA jumped to 6.12. He previously allowed six runs on nine hits last Thursday in Boston.

Freddie Freeman homered, doubled and tied a career high with five RBIs as the Braves held off the Twins for the two-game sweep. Atlanta finished the game with 16 hits, with each player in the lineup getting at least one.

Minnesota’s bullpen was well-rested after Santana’s complete game Tuesday. That was a good thing for the Twins’ relievers, who were asked to pitch 7 2/3 innings Wednesday.

Michael Tonkin relieved Duffey and gave up a pair of runs in 2 1/3 innings on a two-run homer by Freeman. Buddy Boshers gave up an RBI double to Freeman in the sixth. Lefty Taylor Rogers also surrendered a run in the eighth.

After the game, manager Paul Molitor said Duffey is still in line to pitch in Cleveland on Monday. If the Twins do decide to make a roster move to replace Duffey in the rotation, pitching prospect Jose Berrios’ next scheduled start for Triple-A Rochester would line up with Duffey’s outing against the Indians.

"We haven’t really had a chance to rehash the game, or where we might go, or what might unfold in the next couple days that could change that," Molitor said.

Atlanta and Minnesota entered the series with the two worst records in the majors. The Braves are 35-66, the Twins are 37-63.

The Braves are now 9-5 in regular-season matchups against the team it lost to in the 1991 World Series.

A day after getting shut out, the Twins scored in the fourth on a double by Eddie Rosario. Kurt Suzuki added a two-run homer later in the inning. Miguel Sano also had a two-run single but struck out three times, breaking his bat over his knee after fanning the final time.

"We pecked away at them, got back into the game," Molitor said. "They added on a couple that proved to be the difference at the end of the game. But we had chances right down to the end."

FINAL VISIT?

Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski spent his first six seasons in the majors with the Twins. Since his departure, Pierzynski has been the recipient of boos whenever he returns to Minnesota.

Now 39, Pierzynski’s future remains up in the air. If the 2016 season is his last, that meant this two-game series could have been his final trip to the state where his career began.

The 1998 season was Molitor’s final year in the bigs. It also happened to be Pierzynski’s first. The two were briefly teammates in Minnesota that year, and Molitor later spent time around Pierzynski as a Twins coach.

Molitor understands why Pierzynski gets booed upon his return, but had positive things to say about the veteran catcher.

"He’s been a controversial figure in a lot of ways, and I kind of have enjoyed that aspect of his personality," Molitor said. "You can liven up a team with a guy who wants to compete."

Pierzynski was 1 for 5 in the win over his former team.

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