MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -This is why the
were willing to give
so much money. Their choice not to trade him has proven to be prescient - and particularly beneficial for this pennant race.
Earning his 33rd save with four pressure-filled outs against the free-swinging
, Nathan helped the Twins hang on for a too-close-for-comfort 11-8 victory and a three-game sweep by leaving the bases loaded
in the eighth and the ninth.
''You see why they pay him what they do and why they want him around,'' said starter
, who watched an 8-0 lead nearly vanish in a four-run sixth inning when the Mariners homered three times.
Nathan signed for $47 million and four years, plus a club option for a fifth, after many observers assumed he would follow
out of Minnesota while the Twins tried to rebuild.
Instead, the All-Star closer is a big reason they're a surprising playoff contender.
to ground out to end the game. In the eighth, the right-hander struck out
to end that threat.
''Wow! I grew a beard there in that game,'' Minnesota manager
said, having a hard time believing his team had swept the series.
had four hits and scored four runs and
homered and drove in two runs for the Twins, who stayed tied for first place in the AL Central with the
Chicago White Sox
Leads were not safe in this series, though, even against a Mariners team long out of contention. They've got plenty of good
hitters, as they reminded the rather weary Twins.
''You win ugly sometimes,'' said Perkins, who lost a large early lead at Seattle two weeks ago in an 11-6 loss.
In six games against Minnesota this year, the Mariners have scored 39 runs - with a whopping 30 of those coming from the sixth
''We're not going to bow down to anybody the way we've hit the ball the last three weeks,'' interim manager Jim Riggleman
said. ''You can sense it, that the other club knows they've got their hands full when they play us.''
The problem has been pitching.
''If it's not one thing, it's another,'' Riggleman said.
's first major league appearance of the season lasted only three innings, four relievers combined to throw 131 pitches over
the final six frames as the Mariners stumbled to their seventh loss in eight games.
Knuckleballing reliever R.A. Dickey matched a major league record by throwing four wild pitches in an inning, and Seattle
never got closer than two runs.
gave up two runs in the seventh, making it 10-6. Struggling setup man
, who had been held out of the last three games for a mental break, started the eighth and was charged with two runs after
giving up two walks and a double.
Guerrier has given up 21 hits and 16 runs over 11 innings in 14 appearances since the All-Star break.
''We're going to need him,'' Gardenhire said. ''He's just going to have to keep going back out there. He's just going to have
to fight through it and make better pitches.''
allowed a pair of infield singles, leaving the bases loaded. Then Nathan fanned Beltre by getting him to reach for an 89 mph
Nathan gave up a one-out double to
in the ninth and walked
flied out. Pinch-hitter
reached on an infield single, bringing the potential winning run - Suzuki - to the plate.
''These guys swing the bats,'' Nathan said.
Perkins (10-3) improved to 8-1 in his last 14 starts, capping a memorable week for the left-hander. His wife gave birth to
their second a daughter last weekend, and he followed that by throwing eight shutout innings in a win over the
New York Yankees
Perkins was on his way to another long outing, the type the Twins' overexposed bullpen has been in need of, until the humbling
sixth. He finished the inning, but the eight-run lead was halved after Beltre, Balentien and Johjima took him deep. Beltre's
homer, his 20th, followed a single by
and landed about 20 rows up in left.
''You never feel like you're out of the game. Riggleman has a lot to do with it,'' said Ibanez, who went 5-for-5.
Feierabend (0-1) finished the third inning, but only when
was out trying to stretch a single - he slid too far past second base. After going 7-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 13 starts for Triple-A
Tacoma, Feierabend allowed 10 hits and six runs in a disappointing audition for 2009.
''All I can say is, welcome back to the big leagues,'' Feierabend said.
Notes: Ibanez is batting .413 (25-for-62) with 13 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs in 15 games this month. He is 14-for-26 against
the Twins. ... Kubel went 8-for-10 with a homer and six RBIs in the series, raising his average 15 points to .278. He is 13-for-19
against the Mariners this year with three homers and nine RBIs.