Mark Melancon
Twins fall to Pirates after wild back-and-forth eighth inning
Mark Melancon

Twins fall to Pirates after wild back-and-forth eighth inning

Published Jul. 28, 2015 11:57 p.m. ET

MINNEAPOLIS -- Now it's Glen Perkins who is having trouble getting outs.

Minnesota's three-time All-Star closer threw a slider that stayed up and Pittsburgh's Jung Ho Kang drilled it into the upper deck in left field, snapping a tie and lifting the Pirates to an 8-7 victory over the Twins on Tuesday night.

"I threw a bad pitch," said Perkins, agitated over a second straight outing where he's given up ninth-inning home runs that led to losses. "In my position that can cost you the game. Bad games are going to happen. I've been saying that all year."


Perkins (0-3) didn't allow a home run before the All-Star break, and now he's given up three in his last two outings. The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and John Ryan Murphy got him last Saturday, turning a one-run, ninth-inning lead into an 8-5 loss.

"It sucks that it's right now, it sucks that they're lumped together," said Perkins, who's blown two saves after converting his first 28. "But, can't do anything other than continue to go out and try to make pitches."

Kang's home run came after a wild eighth inning when both teams pounced on the other's bullpen for four runs. It was yet another poor outing for Twins relievers trying to hold the lead and set up Perkins.

Handed a 3-2 lead in the eighth, Brian Duensing walked No. 9 hitter Jeff Decker, hitting .111 at the time, on a full count. That loaded the bases for Gregory Polanco, who sent everyone home with a double off the right-field wall. Duensing then allowed a run-scoring single by Neil Walker for a 7-3 Pittsburgh lead.

The Twins bounced back with five straight hits off Pirates reliever Tony Watson, tying the score on a RBI ground-rule double by Eduardo Escobar.

"It's always good to see your team hang in there after you go through a tough half-inning on the defensive side," said Twins manager Paul Molitor.

"But, not quite enough," he said, adding that he is not concerned about Perkins' first rough patch of the season.

"The un-typical season is the one that stays without its hiccups along the way," Molitor said. "It's been a couple outings here when he's made a couple mistakes and guys have made him pay."

Kang's sixth home run of the season sent Pittsburgh to its fourth win five games.

Pittsburgh All-Star closer Mark Melancon (2-1) retired five batters after the Twins tied the game with a four-run rally in the eighth.

Kang had two hits, scored two runs and was hit by a pitch. He has hit .441 in his last nine games in helping Pittsburgh overcome injuries to third baseman Josh Harrison and shortstop Jordy Mercer.

Francisco Cervelli added three hits for Pittsburgh, which has a major league-leading 11 interleague wins this season.

Pirates: LF Starling Marte was a late scratch from the starting lineup because he felt ill.  . . . SS Jordy Mercer (knee) was on the field before the game fielding grounders for the first time since he was placed on the disabled list on July 20 with a sprained knee.

Twins: Ryan said OF Byron Buxton should return to on-field workouts by the end of the week. Buxton has been out since June 25 with a left thumb sprain and Ryan said he's progressed to swinging a bat. Buxton will see some work on the field before being sent to Florida for a rehab assignment.

Currently holding the second wild card in the AL, Twins general manager Terry Ryan has watched the trades made by Kansas City, Houston and Toronto recently but said he doesn't want to be reactionary when it comes to Friday's trade deadline.

"All of us are doing something to try and help the ball club, we're no different," Ryan said. "What other clubs do, I don't think, is going to really affect us. There are teams that do a lot and look like they've done a wonderful job and you certainly notice. But you still have to go out and do what's right for your own club."

Ryan said he wasn't sure when, or if, the team will make moves, but said, "I hope so."

Former Twins LHP Francisco Liriano (6-6) starts for Pittsburgh. Liriano has gone 5-2 with a 2.10 ERA and 84 strikeouts in his last 11 starts since allowing a season-high seven runs to Minnesota on May 19. Minnesota counters with RHP Ervin Santana (2-0), who hasn't allowed a run in his last two starts spanning 15 2/3 innings.


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