For the second consecutive game, Brian Dozier and the Minnesota Twins got the better of the Seattle Mariners.
Dozier’s three-run home run in the fifth inning put the Twins ahead to stay and Seattle (20-22) lost its fourth consecutive game 4-3 Saturday at Target Field. Dozier went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored one game after going 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs.
With Roenis Elias (3-3, 3.88 ERA) on the mound, manager Lloyd McClendon and the Mariners hoped sought a chance to take the series Sunday with ace Felix Hernandez pitching. Instead, Elias lost for the first time in five starts as Seattle managed six hits and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring-position. The Mariners are one for their last 26 with RISP.
Minnesota (21-20) opened with a run in the first inning when Kurt Suzuki hit a two-out double to score Dozier.
Seattle claimed a 2-1 lead when it scored in the third off of Twins’ starter Samuel Deduno (1-2, 3.53 ERA). After Brad Miller drew a one-out walk, James Jones tripled him home and Michael Saunders delivered a sacrifice fly.
Deduno, 30, made his third start for the Twins after being transitioned from relief. The hard-throwing right-hander used a cutter with great movement and a slider to limit the Mariners to two hits and four baserunners through six innings. He struck out four and left with a lead thanks to his second baseman.
Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, Minnesota rallied with Dozier’s 11th home run to take a 4-2 lead. That was all it needed to win the second game of the series. Dozier is hitting .302 in May and has 11 home runs and an .862 OPS (on-base plus slugging) to lead the Twins’ offense.
The Mariners threatened in the top of the seventh against reliever Brian Duensing. The left-hander allowed a leadoff double to Justin Smoak, advanced to third on Dustin Ackley’s flyout. Mike Zunino worked a four-pitch walk but Stefen Romero, pinch-hitting for Miller, grounded into a 1-6-3 double play.
Saunders hit a one-out solo home run in the eighth. Corey Hart had a two-out double, but for the second consecutive plate appearance, Kyle Seager struck out to strand a runner in scoring position.
Smoak led off the ninth with a hit off closer Glen Perkins to give the Mariners a chance to tie, but Perkins got Ackley to pop out, struck out Zunino and then Willie Bloomquist to fly out to center for his 12th save,
After suffering through an eight-game losing skid through the middle of April, Seattle recovered to go 4-0-1 in its next five series. Now it has lost two series and is in a skid that includes three one-run losses. The stretch began with Fernando Rodney’s blown save against Tampa Bay Tuesday night, a game in which Hisashi Iwakuma pitched eight shutout innings to put the M’s in position to win.
Left-handed starting pitcher James Paxton threw a 36-pitch simulated game. He faced teammates Logan Morrison, Cole Gillespie, Stefen Romero and John Buck. Paxton came away healthy and feeling like he’s making progress . . . Also throwing Saturday afternoon was RHP Taijuan Walker, who threw 55 pitches in a bullpen session that featured his full arsenal and left Walker feeling strong and confident, according to reports . . . Jones picked up his first career RBI and triple in the third inning.