Joe Mauer’s milestone homer highlights key Twins win

The Minnesota Twins’ hometown hero provided a milestone moment, but it was up to their hottest hitter of late to cap a special day in the nation’s capital for captain Joe Mauer.

Right fielder Ryan Doumit and the Twins bounced back from a couple wasted plate opportunities to single home the winning run in the 11th inning, ensuring Mauer’s 100th career home run came in a series-opening, 4-3 victory Saturday at Washington.

With his 16th RBI in the Twins’ last 11 contests, Doumit helped reconcile an evening where they went 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

“It was me that had a couple opportunities early on and didn’t capitalize,” said Doumit, who batted 2-for-5 but grounded out with Mauer on second in the seventh, eventually allowing the Nationals to tie the game at 3 in the bottom of the inning.

“I certainly wanted to redeem myself. I knew we were just one hit away, and I was just fortunate enough to get a pitch I could hit.”

He got it on an 0-1 fastball from Nationals reliever Craig Stammen and sent it into center field, scoring Chris Herrmann. Closer Glen Perkins then came on and earned his 13th save of the season, capping a solid all-around pitching outing in which starter Kevin Correia lasted 6 1/3 innings and five relievers combined to allow only two base runners.

The win moved Minnesota to 2-2 on its current road trip entering Sunday’s twinbill, a product of Friday’s postponement due to Tropical Storm Andrea.

“We’re gonna have to have a quick bedtime tonight,” Doumit said during a postgame interview with FOX Sports North. “The last thing we needed was to go 16 or 17 innings with a split doubleheader tomorrow.”

Mauer lofted a 2-2 offering from starter Gio Gonzalez into the left-field bullpen to break a 2-all tie in the top of the fifth and finished a triple short of the cycle. An average hitter who’s never been known for consistent power, he didn’t know he’d hit the century mark until reliever Brian Duensing told him after the game.

“It’s just a nice little thing for me,” Mauer said. “Hopefully I’ll hit some more.”

In checking off National Park as the last major league venue he hadn’t played in, Mauer became the fourth active player to hit 100 home runs while maintaining a career batting average of .320 or better. His blast stood up until Kurt Suzuki’s sharp grounder eluded shortstop Pedro Florimon and brought home the tying run in the bottom of the seventh.

That pushed the game into extras and prompted some concerned expressions from both managers as they evaluated their bullpen scenarios.

“That sucked,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said during his postgame press conference, “because we had to keep trotting pitchers out there, and none of you got to go home and eat.”

But, thanks to Doumit’s eventual game-winning hit, the Twins should be in good shape entering Sunday and returning to Target Field for a nine-game homestand.

Minnesota’s Scott Diamond is set to face Washington’s Jordan Zimmerman in Sunday’s opener, scheduled for 12:35 p.m., with Samuel Deduno and Nathan Karns meeting in the 6:05 p.m. nightcap. FOX Sports North will televise both contests.

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