ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Clete Thomas homered and hit an RBI double, then robbed pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta of a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning to help the Minnesota Twins beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 Monday night and hand Joe Blanton his major league-worst 13th defeat.
Samuel Deduno (6-4) allowed two runs, four hits and five walks over seven innings while striking out five on the anniversary of his first big league victory. The 30-year-old right-hander faced a lineup missing cleanup hitter Josh Hamilton because of stiffness in his right ankle.
Casey Fien gave up two hits in the eighth and was replaced by All-Star closer Glen Perkins. Pinch-hitter Collin Cowgill greeted the left-hander with an RBI single, and Iannetta drove the next pitch on a high arc toward the left-field fence, where Thomas made a leaping grab.
Perkins escaped with his 24th save in 26 chances, extending his scoreless streak to 19 1/3 innings after striking out Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick in the ninth with two on.
The Twins began a seven-game road trip with their fifth victory in six games, following a 1-12 slide that increased their deficit in the AL Central from six to 12 games. They trail division-leading Detroit by 11.
Blanton (2-13) threw 90 pitches in 3 2/3 innings, giving up four runs and nine hits. The beleaguered right-hander, who has allowed a major league-worst 157 hits, is 0-5 with a 5.46 ERA in 10 starts at Angel Stadium after signing a two-year, $15 million contract in December as a free agent. His only victories have come against the Royals and Astros, who are a combined 38 games under .500.
The Twins grabbed a 4-2 lead with a pair of fourth-inning runs. Thomas put them ahead with his fourth homer and the 24th allowed by Blanton, who leads the majors in that department. Left fielder J.B. Shuck threw out Aaron Hicks at the plate as he tried to score from second on Brian Dozier’s single, but Doug Bernier doubled on the next pitch for his first major league hit, driving in Dozier.
Bernier, the Twins’ 33-year-old shortstop, was playing in his fourth big league game and making his first start in the majors since June 19, 2008, with Colorado. He was recalled from Triple-A Rochester on July 14, more than 11 years after signing his first professional contract.
The Angels opened the scoring in the first inning without the benefit of a hit. Deduno walked his first two batters, both advanced on a hit-and-run groundout by Pujols, and Howie Kendrick drove in Shuck with a sacrifice fly.
Minnesota took a 2-1 lead in the second on two-out RBI doubles by Thomas and Hicks, the eighth and ninth hitters, but the Angels tied it in the third with an RBI single by Mike Trout that extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games.
Notes: Blanton, pitching for the first time since his angry dugout confrontation with Iannetta and pitching coach Mike Butcher during a 4-3 loss in Seattle on July 14, had Hank Conger as his batterymate this time. “Hank works pretty good with Joe right now, and we have to do everything we can do to get Joe on board,” manager Mike Scioscia said before the game. . . . In Blanton’s five starts with Conger behind the plate, he is 0-3 with a 4.97 ERA and seven home runs allowed. In his 15 starts with Iannetta flashing the signs, Blanton is 2-10 with a 5.90 ERA and 17 homers allowed. . . . Hamilton was the only player on the Angels’ roster who had faced Deduno before Monday. . . . The Angels wasted a leadoff triple in the seventh by Conger, as Deduno struck out Erick Aybar and Shuck before retiring Trout on a grounder. . . . The Twins have given up 81 runs in the first inning, more than they have in any other. . . . Minnesota’s relievers have struck out 287 batters in 332 innings, 12 more than the starters have fanned in 522 1/3 innings.