Plouffe powers Twins over Marlins

MINNEAPOLIS - Trevor Plouffe didn't appear to have any knee pain, especially when he was circling the bases. Plouffe, who missed three games in May with a knee injury and has slowly been working his way back to effectiveness for the Twins homered...

MINNEAPOLIS - Trevor Plouffe didn't appear to have any knee pain, especially when he was circling the bases.

Plouffe, who missed three games in May with a knee injury and has slowly been working his way back to effectiveness for the Twins homered early and had a run-scoring double late in the Minnesota's 7-5 win over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday.

"I just want to contribute to wins and I haven't been doing that lately," Plouffe said, after notching a trio of RBI. "Tonight was a good, overall team win for us and just happy that I contributed today."

Plouffe hit a ball off the right-field wall with two outs in the seventh, breaking a tie game by scoring Joe Mauer from first base, as the Twins (18-40) won their second game in a row. Taylor Rogers (2-0) pitched a scoreless seventh to get the win for Minnesota, which had not won a home series since April.

"It was a really good sign. It's been a struggle -- some of it physical, some of it mental," said Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, after Plouffe homered for the first time in nearly a month. "He's been working. I think getting the home run kind of helped him relax a little bit and then we saw him hit that power shot to the gap going the opposite way and we know he can do, and we've haven't seen much of that, so that's a good sign."


Nick Wittgren (1-1) took the loss for Miami (30-29), which has now dropped four of its last five. Wittgren came on in relief of Wei-Yin Chen and allowed a pair of runs and four hits in 1 1/3 innings.

Twins starter Ricky Nolasco worked 5 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on 11 hits. Chen lasted 5 1/3 for the Marlins, allowing nine hits and five runs. It was his fourth consecutive no-decision. Brandon Kintzler pitched the ninth for Minnesota to earn his first career save, striking out Giancarlo Stanton to end the game.

"I was just trying to think about how to keep the opponent from scoring, try to get the hitters out," said Chen. "Maybe I didn't do a really good job in the first couple innings that I was able to do in the later part of the game."

Miami trailed 4-0 early, but rallied to take a 5-4 lead as Chen retired nine consecutive Minnesota batters at one point. Miami took the lead in the sixth, when four consecutive two-out hits chased Nolasco and brought Miguel Rojas across the plate. But the Twins answered in the bottom half of the inning when Byung Ho Park homered into the Marlins bullpen in center field for a 5-5 tie.

"Not so much frustrating. I thought we battled," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "You're not always going to get hits there every night. Obviously it would be nice to do something big there, but to put up five runs in a couple innings there quick, I thought we got back in it. We just weren't able to get anything after that."

The Twins' recent parade of long balls got going early as Mauer gave the home team a first-inning lead by sending a 1-0 pitch from Chen into a flower bed in left field. It was the 20th consecutive game in which Mauer has reached base safely.

Minnesota went up 2-0 in the second when Park reached on a fielder's choice, advanced on a double by Oswaldo Arcia and scored on a single by Kurt Suzuki.

Miami threatened in the third with men on first and third and one out, but Christian Yelich bounced into a double play. The Twins doubled their lead when Mauer reached on a fielder's choice and Plouffe followed with a 394-foot shot to left-center. It was the ninth homer hit by the Twins in their last three games.


"I'm always hesitant to jump on the home run bandwagon, but it's good to see," Molitor said. "It's been a big part of our offense when we've won games here in the last 10 days. We're hitting it over the fence and we're getting it from different people, which is good to see."

The Marlins finally answered in the fifth, bringing nine men to the plate and scoring four runs on five hits in the inning to forge a 4-4 tie. The biggest blow was Marcell Ozuna's bases-loaded single that plated two.

NOTES: Good things are happening down on the farm for Miami, where seven members of the Double-A Jacksonville Suns were named to the Southern League All-Star Game on Wednesday. ... Signed by the Twins on May 17 as a minor league free agent and called up two days later, LF Robbie Grossman is getting to know the base paths quickly. He entered Wednesday's game having reached base safely in 16 of his first 17 games in Minnesota. ... The Marlins had Ichiro Suzuki lead off and DH on Wednesday. He began the game 17 career hits behind Jim Rice for 30th on the list of major league career leaders. But his 2,968 MLB hits combined with the 1,278 he collected in nine seasons of pro baseball in Japan place him just 10 back of the 4,256 career hits Pete Rose notched. ... The three-game series concludes on Thursday evening with Twins RHP Ervin Santana (1-5, 4.50 ERA) facing Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (3-6, 4.50 ERA).

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