- Associated Press - Saturday, May 21, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - J.A. Happ was on a roll for seven innings on Saturday. Then, suddenly, he was on the hook for his second straight loss.

Eduardo Nunez homered to cap a five-run eighth inning as the Minnesota Twins rallied to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 Saturday.

Happ (5-2) had blanked the Twins on just one hit and carried a 2-0 lead into the eighth. Robbie Grossman singled and Darrin Mastroianni walked to put two runners on. After Kurt Suzuki popped up a bunt, Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker visited the mound to discuss strategy with Happ.

Danny Santana drove Happ’s last pitch into the right-field corner for a two-run double that tied the game. Reliever Gavin Floyd hit Brian Dozier with his first pitch and Nunez followed with a three-run homer.

“If he said anything, it didn’t work, right?” Toronto manager John Gibbons said of Walker’s mound visit. “No, I just think you’re rolling to the top of the lineup, (and) the big boys up top, the right-handed hitters, can beat you against a lefty. So, we gave him a shot to (get Santana) and he couldn’t get it done.’

Fernando Abad (1-0) threw two pitches and picked up the win. He entered the game with one out in the eighth and got Justin Smoak to hit into a double play.

Pat Dean pitched six strong innings for the Twins in his first major league start. The lefty gave up two runs on three hits and three walks and struck out five.

“It was a solid six innings for us,” said Molitor, whose pitchers entered the game with the worst ERA in the American League. “It picked us up for sure.”

Toronto slugger Jose Bautista homered for the 13th time in 20 games at Target Field. Michael Saunders homered in the ninth off Kevin Jepsen, who got his third save.

Bautista hit his ninth homer, a two-run drive in the third inning. After Darwin Barney hit a one-out double, Dean hung a slider that Bautista sent into the second deck in left field.

Happ was coming off his shortest start of the year, when he lasted just two innings in a loss to the Rays on Monday. He now has lost consecutive games, though he pitched much better this time out.

“It’s hard to say they were better than us today, but that’s the fact of the matter,” Happ said. “A groundball, and a walk and a slap hit, and that’s the game. It’s tough to take. Other than the eighth inning, I felt really good about it.”


Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson had an abbreviated appearance. He was ejected by home plate Toby Basner in the top of the first. Donaldson, batting second, was retired on an infield grounder. He was jawing with the Twins dugout as he passed home plate on his way back to his dugout and Basner immediately tossed him.

“It’s tough,” said Donaldson, who hit one of Toronto’s four homers on Friday. “Our guys are out there, you know, we’re feeling pretty good about ourselves the past couple of days and then for me to get ejected coming off a pretty good night last night, it’s not something you want to do.”


Twins first baseman Joe Mauer got a routine day off with the left-handed Happ starting for Toronto. Mauer had played in all 41 of the Twins’ games this season, starting 39 and coming off the bench twice.

“We’ve been on a swing of right-handed pitchers here for 10 days or so,” manager Paul Molitor said. “(Saturday is) a day where, day game after a night game, lefty going, we kind of earmarked that for him.”

Mauer was hitting .323 on May 4, but has gone 7 for 48 since, dropping his batting average to .265.


Blue Jays: LHP Aaron Loup (forearm flexor strain) began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday. He has not pitched in a major league game yet this season.

Twins: RHP Alex Meyer (shoulder) has not pitched since being optioned to Triple-A Rochester on May 4, but on Sunday he’s expected to throw his second bullpen session in three days. Twins general manager Terry Ryan said that Meyer is being prepped for a return to the starting rotation.


The teams wrap up their four-game series on Sunday, with the Twins sending RHP Phil Hughes (1-6, 5.70) to the mound against Toronto RHP Marcus Stroman (4-1, 4.23).

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