MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s comeback was fueled by a couple of recent minor league call-ups, and Philadelphia’s bullpen faltered again.
The stage for this late lead shift, though, was set much earlier by Mike Pelfrey.
Clete Thomas came home on a wild pitch for the go-ahead run in the eighth after Pelfrey kept the game close with a season-high seven innings, and the Twins stuck the Phillies with their fifth straight loss, 4-3 on Wednesday night.
“He looked stronger at the end, which is a good sign,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Thomas went a career-best 4 for 4 with two RBI doubles. He drove in Oswaldo Arcia both times, including in the eighth when his drive off the tall wall in right field against Antonio Bastardo (2-2) tied the game at 3.
“That was great. Hit a ball hard, and he’s going to score,” said Thomas, summoned from Triple-A Rochester just nine days ago. Arcia came up on Monday.
Delmon Young and Ben Revere hit RBI singles for the Phillies against their former team, but Twins relievers outpitched their counterparts anew.
Brian Duensing (2-1) picked up the victory by stranding runners at first and second in the eighth inning by striking out Ryan Howard on a call the slugger disputed with home plate umpire David Rackley and getting Domonic Brown to pop out. Then Glen Perkins pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save in 17 tries.
Minnesota’s bullpen entered the game with a 2.91 ERA, the fourth-best mark in the majors. Philadelphia, at 4.48, was the third-worst in baseball.
“Lefties-lefties, righties-righties. We couldn’t get them out. Bottom line, we couldn’t get the job done,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
Arcia went 3 for 4 and scored three times, all after hits that led off an inning. Eduardo Escobar’s bunt that followed the tying hit by Thomas in the eighth had just the right amount of backspin to nestle into the grass along the first-base line for a single, putting the Twins in position to take the lead.
Justin De Fratus relieved Bastardo and retired Pedro Florimon on a hard line drive right at second baseman Freddy Galvis, but the right-hander let one get away that reached the backstop and Thomas scored easily.
“If we knew the problem, obviously we’d fix it,” said starter Tyler Cloyd, who was fortunate to leave after five innings with a 3-1 lead. He gave up six hits and three walks and left seven men on base.
Pelfrey was the better pitcher, despite never having a lead. He tossed a season-most 112 pitches with his surgically repaired right elbow. His 6.22 ERA entering the game was still the worst in the majors among pitchers with a qualifying amount of innings, but he has slowly begun to round into form, a little more than a year after the Tommy John ligament replacement procedure.
This was his fourth start this season of six innings or more and three runs or less. He struck out seven, gave up five hits and walked one.
“If I would’ve known how the first two months would’ve gone, I would’ve waited and I probably would’ve been a little more patient. But I busted my tail to get back, and hopefully this will keep going from here,” Pelfrey said.
Revere, the second batter of the game, was ruled safe by first base umpire Bruce Dreckman for an infield single after third baseman Jamey Carroll made a lunging stop of a sharp grounder and zipped a throw across the diamond. First baseman Justin Morneau appeared to slap Revere’s chest with his glove just after the ball landed in the webbing, but the arguments by Morneau and Gardenhire didn’t matter.
Revere scored on Brown’s sacrifice fly. Then Young followed with a soft single that stretched the lead to 2-0.
Michael Young’s two-out double in the fifth interrupted a string of 12 straight batters retired by Pelfrey. Revere’s single sank fast enough into shallow center field to keep Thomas from catching it, putting the Phillies up 3-1.
But Manuel’s pregame concerns about his team’s struggling hitters played out during the evening. Young’s was the only extra-base hit, and the Phillies had six three-up, three-down innings at the plate.
Arcia and Thomas, instead, were the ones making all the solid contact.
“Those guys are going up there and swinging. They bring some life,” Gardenhire said.
NOTES: The Twins have won six of their last seven one-run games. … The Phillies optioned 2B Cesar Hernandez to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after the game. … Twins rookie RHP Ryan Pressly, who has a 1.24 ERA over 29 relief innings, was unavailable for the second straight game. The day before, he had a sore right shoulder. This time, he was sent home sick. … The Phillies will send LHP Cliff Lee (7-2, 2.55 ERA) to the mound for the series finale Thursday, his first start against Minnesota in nearly three years. Kevin Correia (5-4, 4.11 ERA) will pitch for the Twins, his fifth career start against the Phillies.