Mauer sparks Twins’ win over Blue Jays with bat

For once, good pitching and hitting clicked on the same day for the Minnesota Twins.

Major league batting leader Joe Mauer got three more hits and keyed a five-run first inning that sent Minnesota over the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 Monday.

“That’s kind of been our thing all year, that’s why we’ve been pretty much around .500 is we haven’t really hit for a long stretch of time when we’ve pitched for a long stretch of time,” first baseman Justin Morneau said. “It’s kind of been a little inconsistent at both ends.”

Jason Kubel doubled twice for the Twins, who snapped a seven-game losing streak in Toronto. The Blue Jays have lost 11 of 15.

Mauer doubled and singled twice, boosting his average to .369. He delivered a two-run single in the first inning.

“Amazing,” Morneau said. “The year he’s having, it’s unfortunate we’re not in first place because he’d be, I mean, in my opinion he still should get the MVP, but he’d be running away with that thing.”

Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill left the game after three innings and took a flight home to Palm Harbor, Fla., after learning that wife Elizabeth had gone into labor with the couple’s first child.

downlevel description

This video requires the Adobe Flash Player. Download a free version of the player.

“He’s real excited, a little nervous too, which I don’t blame him for that,” manager Cito Gaston said. “I hope everything goes well for them. I’m not going to worry about him getting back here, just hope that the baby’s fine and she’s fine, too.”

Toronto rookie Randy Ruiz, hit in the face by a pitch Sunday, was available but did not play.

Making his second major league start, Jeff Manship couldn’t hold on long enough for his first career win. He allowed three runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings.

“I definitely didn’t have a changeup today, which I think hurt me,” Manship said. “I just think I was throwing way too many pitches, I was trying to be too fine at times and rushing myself.”

The Twins used five relievers. Jesse Crain (5-4) worked 1 1-3 innings and Joe Nathan closed it out in the ninth for his 37th save.

Minnesota had scored five runs overall just once in their previous 10 games, but broke loose against Scott Richmond (6-9). Mauer put the Twins ahead, Morneau and Michael Cuddyer had RBI singles and Delmon Young drove in a run with a grounder.

“I don’t want to say it was a monkey off our back because I don’t think we put too much pressure on but it definitely gave us a sigh of relief,” Cuddyer said. “I’m sure it gave the pitching staff a sigh of relief as well.”

Morneau’s single snapped an 0 for 19 slump while Cuddyer’s hit ended an 0 for 16 skid.

“It feels like my first hit in about a month,” Morneau said. “I tried to get that ball.”

Morneau was happy to see the Twins combine good hitting and strong pitching after losing two of three in Cleveland, scoring just seven runs.

“We scuffled in Cleveland and, for a team that has scored runs all year, it’s tough when you go through stretches like that,” Morneau said. “The pitchers have been throwing the ball great. If they keep doing that and we swing the way we’re capable of, we can hopefully make this thing interesting down the stretch.”

The Twins are 6 1/2 games behind Detroit in the AL Central, but have seven games remaining against the Tigers.

Adam Lind had a sacrifice fly in the second and Toronto chased Manship with two runs in the fifth. Jose Bautista hit a solo homer and Vernon Wells hit an RBI single off reliever Bobby Keppel.

Denard Span capped the scoring with an RBI single in the sixth.


Richmond has not won since June 24. … Twins LHP Francisco Liriano (arm fatigue) is scheduled to throw a simulated game Tuesday and, if that goes well, be activated off the disabled list Thursday. … Minnesota 3B Joe Crede (lower back strain) fielded grounders and took part in batting practice Monday and will get a look at live pitching during Liriano’s simulated game Tuesday. … Toronto 1B Lyle Overbay returned to the lineup after missing three games with a sore finger. … The crowd of 13,153 was Toronto’s third-smallest this season.