Home run in the 13th inning lifts Twins

Published 1:34 pm Saturday, July 27, 2013

SEATTLE — When Chris Colabello walked to the plate with one on and no outs in the 13th inning, he expected to put down a sacrifice bunt. When he saw the sign to swing away, he had to check again just to make sure.

The call worked out pretty well. Colabello hit his first career home run, a two-run shot to the opposite field to give the Minnesota Twins the winning runs in a 3-2 victory against the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.

“I was looking down at third base to try and get the signs, I thought we were maybe going to bunt. We’d talked about it in the dugout,” Colabello said. “I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball, and thankfully it worked out the way it did.”

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Colabello’s home run completed a turnaround for the Twins, who were unable to do anything offensively against Seattle starter Felix Hernandez for eight innings. Hernandez was two outs from a shutout and his first complete game of the season, but Trevor Plouffe’s pinch-hit single in the top of the ninth tied it at 1.

“It was a very exciting baseball game,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Mr. Hernandez was as advertised. Really tough. To find a way to squeak out a run against him was really unbelievable — he’s just so dominant.”

Runs were hard to come by for both teams until the Mariners’ Yoervis Medina (3-3) entered in the 13th. Aaron Hicks led off with a single and Colabello — playing in his 14th major league game — followed with his two-run homer to right field.

It was Colabello’s first home run in the majors, as well as his first extra-base hit.

“The last couple days I’ve been feeling a lot better in the box,” Colabello said. “I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to help the team and do what I could to be successful, and obviously something like that is pretty special. I’ll remember it for a long time.”

Before Plouffe’s pinch hit he was on an 0 for 9 slide, but he seemed more excited about Colabello’s hit than his own.

“We were excited. That’s what you need, a guy like Collie to come up and spark the team,” he said. We had some other chances to do it, but both bullpens were great today. I’m just happy for Collie to get that one. I think he’s been waiting for that for a long time, so we’re all excited for him.”

Kendrys Morales led off the bottom of the 13th with his 16th homer, but Glen Perkins closed it out for his 25th save.

Brian Duensing (3-1) pitched two innings for the win.

The Twins ruined Hernandez’s shutout bid when Pedro Florimon led off the ninth with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Plouffe’s single.

Until the ninth, Hernandez was nearly flawless. He had at least one strikeout in every inning, finishing with 11, and didn’t walk a batter. He hasn’t lost in 11 starts, stretching back to May 25.

Plouffe’s hit ended Hernandez’s stretch of 24 1-3 scoreless innings, and 32 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings against the Twins.

“Eight innings of Felix, vintage Felix, obviously not a lot of run support for him,” said Mariners acting manager Robby Thompson. “We squandered some opportunities to get him another run or two — didn’t happen.”

Twins pitcher Scott Diamond had one of his best starts of the year as well. Diamond pitched into the seventh inning, giving up one run on five hits, with a walk and a strikeout.

Gardenhire said Diamond’s performance was necessary, given the task the offense had against Hernandez.

“You know you’re in for a battle, you know he’s going to make you look silly at times,” Gardenhire said. “You just have to hang in there, and the only way to hang with this guy is for your starting pitcher to do what Scotty did tonight, because that guy’s not going to give up much.”

The game was scoreless until the Mariners broke through in the fifth inning, although they were unhappy with a call which may have cost them more.

Dustin Ackley led off with a single and then Brendan Ryan hit a possible double-play ball to shortstop Florimon. The toss to second baseman Dozier popped out of his glove, but umpire Chris Guccione ruled the ball was caught and Ackley was out.

Henry Blanco sent Ryan to third with a bloop single, and Nick Franklin drove him home with a two-out single up the middle to give Seattle a 1-0 lead.

“We failed to turn a double play and they end up getting a run out of that,” Gardenhire said. “We were hoping that wasn’t the way we lost that game because Scotty had thrown so well.”

The Mariners were the first team to get a runner in scoring position in extra innings, as Endy Chavez and Franklin hit two-out singles in the 12th, but Raul Ibanez struck out to end the threat.

NOTES: Seattle placed C Mike Zunino on the 15-day DL because of a broken bone in his left hand. Zunino will undergo surgery next week and the expected recovery time is six weeks. To help replace Zunino, Seattle signed free agent catcher Humberto Quintero, who was designated for assignment by the Phillies on Wednesday. … Twins C Joe Mauer will remain with his family in Minnesota through the weekend and rejoin the team on Tuesday. Mauer has been on the paternity list since his wife gave birth to twin girls on Wednesday. He will be placed on the restricted list Saturday.