Mariners-Twins Preview 

Mariners-Twins Preview

Returning home couldn't fix the woes of the Minnesota Twins. They now hope Johan Santana can.

The Twins, losers of four straight games and 11 of 14, send their ace to the hill Tuesday to wrap up their two-game series with the Seattle Mariners.

Minnesota (9-16) allowed five runs in the sixth inning en route to an 8-2 defeat in Monday's series opener. The Twins have been outscored 41-3 during their four-game losing skid, and have allowed six or more runs in 15 of 25 games this season.

''Guys are trying. Guys are out there playing. You've also got to score some runs, too,'' said manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team went 2-7 on a road trip before losing at home Monday. ''Our starters haven't been getting it done. Our offense has to pick them up.''

Starter Scott Baker allowed five runs in 5 1-3 innings Monday, continuing a miserable season for the Minnesota rotation. Twins starters have a major league-high 7.25 ERA and are allowing opponents to bat .328 against them.

The Twins look to Santana (1-3, 4.45 ERA) to turn the tide just as he seems to be rounding into form. The 2004 AL Cy Young Award winner earned his first win of the season Thursday at Kansas City, limiting the Royals to three runs and seven hits in eight innings while striking out a season-high 10 in Minnesota's last victory.

''I felt pretty good,'' said Santana, who had never opened a season 0-3 before. ''I was throwing the fastball in and out of the plate and I was able to throw my changeup. It was a nice day.''

Santana has won all four of his career starts against the Mariners, posting a 2.08 ERA in those outings.

Seattle left fielder Raul Ibanez has enjoyed success against Santana, going 7-for-17 (.412) with a homer. Ibanez also went 2-for-5 with a double Monday in his second consecutive multihit game.

Mariners left-hander Jarrod Washburn (2-3, 3.51) gets the start on a mound where he's pitched some of his best ball. Washburn is 4-0 with a 2.20 ERA in five starts at the Metrodome. Among pitchers with at least five starts at the venue, only Jimmy Key (2.06) posted a lower ERA.

Washburn snapped a personal three-game losing streak with a win over the Chicago White Sox last Wednesday, when he held the defending World Series champions to one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings.

The Mariners (12-15) have seen their offense bust out during their current three-game winning streak, with 20 runs and 41 hits over that span. Seattle had scored five runs or fewer in each of its eight previous contests.

''The meat of our order hasn't really done anything,'' said first baseman Richie Sexson, who is batting just .214 but homered Monday for his 1,000th career hit. ''We're still winning games and floating around .500, so that's good. As soon as we start clicking and doing some things that we can do, we'll start winning more consistently.''

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