- Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - It’s getting closer to October, and the Minnesota Twins’ surprise season is slowly turning back into a pumpkin.

Albert Pujols and Mike Trout combined for four RBIs in a day-night doubleheader, lifting the Angels to a Saturday sweep of the Twins that leapfrogged Los Angeles past Minnesota in the standings.

Pujols’ two-run double in the sixth inning of the nightcap broke the tie and put the Angels up for good in a 5-2 win under the lights at Target Field - handing the Twins their fifth straight loss, all at home.

“I think their experience is showing up here these last three games,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “And maybe our lack of it is showing up, too.”

Entering Saturday, the Twins had a one-game lead on the Angels in the AL wild-card race, but dropped the third-straight game of the series to Los Angeles and now trail the Angels by a game. Minnesota is 2 1/2 games behind Houston for the final wild-card spot.

Few expected the Twins (75-73) to be playing meaningful baseball in September, coming off four-straight seasons of 90 losses or more. But Molitor has led a resilient group that has found a way to punch back. They responded to a 5-12 stretch in August by winning 10 of the next 12 games.

But after this skid and with just 14 games left, the Twins know there isn’t much time to stage a turnaround.

“We need to figure it out and we need to do it fast because we’re running out of games,” starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey said.

Pelfrey (6-10) allowed four runs on nine hits for Minnesota, which watched Trout and Chris Iannetta belt solo homers for Los Angeles (76-72) in the night loss.

Garrett Richards (14-11) was one out away from his second complete game of the season and gave up five hits and two runs. Houston Street saved both games of the doubleheader and has 38 saves. The surging Angels have now won their third-straight series.

The Twins managed just five hits, and only one before Trevor Plouffe ended a 15-batter hitless streak with a solo homer in the seventh to get the Twins on the board.

Los Angeles took the first game of the doubleheader 4-3 when Kole Calhoun’s liner eluded shortstop Eduardo Escobar’s glove to allow Dan Robertson to score from third in the 12th inning.


Miguel Sano’s 17th homer tied the early game in the bottom of the seventh when the big rookie slugger hit a two-run shot to the second deck in center field above the bullpens.

In his next at-bat, Sano was intentionally walked by Angels reliever Fernando Salas, marking the first intentional walk for the standout rookie in his career.


Removed from the rotation, Phil Hughes made his first relief appearance on Saturday night since Sept. 6, 2013 with the New York Yankees.

Trout turned Hughes’ sixth pitch of the night into an eighth-inning homer for the Angels’ fifth run. Hughes has allowed 19 earned runs in his last 18 2-3 innings.

“You get Trout, Pujols right out of the shoot when you haven’t been out of the ‘pen for a long time, it’s a tough order,” Molitor said.


Twins: All-Star closer Glen Perkins pitched in Game 1, his first appearance since Sept. 1, making his return from back spasms. He struck out the only batter he faced, Calhoun, with two runners on in the seventh. … RHP Trevor May also made his return to the lineup after missing two games with a sore right hip. He pitched a scoreless eighth in the first game.


The finale of the four-game series on Sunday will have Minnesota rookie RHPTyler Duffey (3-1, 3.72) facing RHP Matt Shoemaker (7-9, 4.31) for the Angels. Duffey has allowed just four earned runs in 17 innings at home this season and beat Detroit in his last outing by allowing one run in 6 1-3 innings. Shoemaker will make his first start since Sept. 1 after dealing with right forearm tightness.

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