- Associated Press - Saturday, September 6, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The last-place Twins came from behind four times against the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels. Minnesota still finished one comeback short.

The Twins’ Trevor Plouffe tied the score with a two-out, two-run double in the ninth inning, before Erick Aybar’s sacrifice fly drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th to give the Angels a 7-6 victory Friday night.

“We came up short again, but the boys are giving it everything they have. Everybody’s out there trying,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who used a season-high nine pitchers, including four in the eighth inning as the Angels scored three runs to take a 6-4 lead.

Minnesota also trailed 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 earlier in the game.

The Twins were down to their final out against closer Huston Street (1-1) in the ninth, but Plouffe hit the ball just beyond the reach of a hard-charging Mike Trout in left-center to drive in two runs to tie the score.

Kole Calhoun singled to start the 10th, and Jared Burton (2-4) walked two in a row with one out to load the bases. Oswaldo Arcia caught Aybar’s fly ball and made a strong throw from right field, but it was a bit off line and not in time for catcher Josmil Pinto to pivot and tag the speedy Calhoun.

Though the Twins have lost 10 of their last 13, Plouffe said the season has been a positive step for a franchise that hasn’t reached the playoffs in four years.

“It’s frustrating. We’re here to win the AL Central - that’s our goal every year,” Plouffe said. “We haven’t been able to do that the past four years. We’re going in the right direction though.”

Matt Shoemaker lasted only four innings after winning each of his last four starts and saw his scoreless streak end at 23 2-3 innings on a sacrifice fly by Kennys Vargas. The right-hander’s run landed as the second-longest by an Angels rookie, behind Bob Lee (27) in 1964.

The American League Pitcher and Rookie of the Month for August, Shoemaker stumbled in his first September start. He needed 90 pitches to finish those four innings and surrendered a leadoff home run to Arcia in the second, the first long ball off the dark-bearded rookie in four starts. Shoemaker allowed six hits and three runs.

Aaron Hicks hit RBI singles after doubles by Pinto in the fourth and sixth innings before Plouffe’s big hit forced extra innings.


Ricky Nolasco made another unremarkable start for the Twins, allowing eight hits and three runs over five innings. Two errors and a couple other misplays didn’t help matters for the Twins’ highest-paid pitcher, but his manager had nothing but praise for him after the 4 1/2-hour game.

“Ricky Nolasco was good - a long time ago,” Gardenhire said. “He ended up throwing a lot of pitches and we didn’t make a few plays behind him, but I thought the ball was coming out of his hand good.”


Twins closer Glen Perkins was unavailable to pitch Friday due to a sore neck, and OF Jordan Schafer suffered bruised ribs when he crashed into the fence while making a catch in the ninth inning. Both players are considered day-to-day.

Angels LF Josh Hamilton, given a rest for his sore right shoulder after receiving a shot of cortisone in the joint the night before, was feeling better and expected in the lineup for the rest of the weekend.


Converted reliever Cory Rasmus starts Saturday for the Angels after he pitched three scoreless innings in his first career start last weekend, filling the spot vacated in the rotation by the injury to Garrett Richards.

Twins ace Phil Hughes seeks his AL-leading 16th victory, still with a chance to win 20 games in his first season with the team. He needs a victory in each of his remaining scheduled starts to do so. The last 20-game winner for the Twins was Johan Santana in 2004.

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