Twins rally, hand Phillies ninth loss in a row

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[June 23, 2016]  MINNEAPOLIS -- In a seesaw game between two struggling teams, it was the Minnesota Twins who struck the final blow.

Max Kepler's seventh-inning sacrifice fly provided the Twins with the winning run in a 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night at Target Field.

With the game tied at 5, the Twins got back-to-back, one-out singles from Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Escobar to put runners on the corners. Kepler lifted a fly ball to medium-deep left field, and Plouffe tagged up and beat left fielder Cody Asche's throw home for the lead run.

"One of those games where we had to fight," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "I thought we swung the bats well. We didn't capitalize too much, we left some guys out there, but we got some hits with runners in scoring position."

Taylor Rogers (3-0) earned the win for Minnesota, pitching one shutout inning in relief of starter Kyle Gibson.

Ryan Pressly and Fernando Abad combined to retire the final six Phillies to secure the victory. Abad earned his first career save, working 1 1/3 innings.

The Phillies lost their ninth consecutive game, their longest streak in exactly one year, when they were also mired in a nine-game skid.

Every hitter in the Minnesota lineup had at least one hit, led by Plouffe, who had three hits, an RBI and two runs. Escobar and Robbie Grossman had two hits apiece, and Escobar and Kepler each knocked in two runs.

Andres Blanco and Cameron Rupp each homered for the Phillies. Blanco had three hits and drove in two runs.

Gibson allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out five.

"(The stuff was) A little hit or miss at times," Gibson said. "Except for the fifth inning, I was able to make pitches when I needed to. Consistency with all my pitches was there."

Phillies reliever David Hernandez (1-2) was charged with the loss after allowing one run on two hits and a walk in one inning.

Philadelphia starter Adam Morgan got a no-decision after giving up five runs (four earned) on 11 hits and a walk in five innings. He fanned three.

Morgan has allowed five runs or more in four of his last six starts and saw his season ERA bloom to 6.55.

"Yeah, there's not much I really have to say, the only thing I know to do is to keep going," Morgan said. "You go through these times and the only way to get out of them is to keep going."

In the Minnesota first inning, after back-to-back, one-out singles, Plouffe singled home the first run of the game.

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Rupp's solo homer in the second tied the game before Minnesota took advantage of an errant pick-off throw by Morgan. Byron Buxton drew a two-out walk, then drew the attention of the left-hander, who fired wide of first baseman Tommy Joseph on a pickoff try. Buxton scampered to second and scored on Eduardo Nunez's ensuing single.

The lead was again short-lived, as Blanco's solo blast in the third tied the score at 2.

The Phillies moved in front in the fifth. One-out singles by Peter Bourjos and Odubel Herrera set up Blanco, who ripped a single to right field, where it skipped under the glove of Kepler and rolled to the wall. Bourjos and Herrera scored, and Blanco wound up at third base.

After an intentional walk to Maikel Franco, Ryan Howard snapped an 0-for-17 skid with an RBI single to center field, giving the Phillies a 5-2 lead.

Minnesota got all three runs back in the bottom of the inning. Escobar drove in a pair with a two-run triple that got over the head of Bourjos in right, and he scored on Kepler's RBI single.

"It's nice to get a three-run lead, but then when you give it right back to them that changes the whole momentum of the game. That was tough to take," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin. "Our pitching has been our mainstay early in the season and not it's eluding us. But it is good to see signs of life from the offense. Guys are swinging the bats a little bit better."

NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 10 minutes by rain. ... Phillies INF Andres Blanco started his fifth consecutive game on Wednesday. He was in the lineup at second base and batted second. ... Twins LHP Glen Perkins will undergo season-ending surgery on his throwing shoulder on Thursday in Southern California. Perkins pitched in just two games this season and has been on the 15-day disabled list since mid-April. ... Twins OF Miguel Sano will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on Friday. Sano, who has been on the DL since June 1 with a strained hamstring, is expected to spend a week-to-10 days with Rochester before returning to the big league club. ... Philadelphia and Minnesota will conclude their three-game series on Thursdayafternoon at Target Field. Phillies RHP Jerad Eickhoff (4-9, 3.49 ERA) will oppose Twins RHP Ricky Nolasco (3-4, 4.91 ERA).

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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