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Walk-off single nets Twins sweep of Padres

June 19, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — An unlikely trio sparked the Twins’ seventh straight win on Sunday.

Entering the game, outfielder Rene Tosoni and third baseman Matt Tolbert had a combined batting average of just .188 (30-for-160). But they delivered back-to-back two-out doubles in the seventh to plate the tying and go-ahead runs.

With the game tied again in the ninth, Drew Butera singled to left, scoring Delmon Young from second base for the 5-4 Twins victory and the three-game sweep of the Padres.

“That’s that ‘Never Die’ attitude,” Butera said. “That’s the way we feel right now. We feel any situation in a game we can come back from.”

Butera, who entered the game batting .169, delivered the walk-off single thanks in large part to Tosoni and Tolbert. If not for Tosoni pinch-hitting for Rene Rivera in the eighth, Butera would never even have been in the game.

With the way things have been going for the Twins lately, it was fitting that a trio with only 50 hits among them on the season would come through in the clutch. What makes it even more impressive is that they did it against Mike Adams and Chad Qualls, two of the toughest relievers in the National League.

Making it even more improbable was the fact that Tosoni would have struck out if Rob Johnson had held on to a foul tip earlier in the at-bat.

“That was a big inning for them … after the error they came up with two clutch hits from guys at the bottom of the order,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “Good things are happening for them, they’re catching breaks and playing well.”

Tosoni said he wanted to make the most of his opportunity, and he did just that as his double went down the line and into the right field corner, scoring Luke Hughes, who had reached on a throwing error two batters earlier.

That at-bat, with the way Tosoni battled Adams, inspired Tolbert to come through with a double of his own.

“Tosoni got me all fired up,” Tolbert said. “Once I saw him hit [that] double, get into scoring position and he tied it up, I was like, ‘OK, now I’ve got to do my part.’

“He came off the bench cold and just battled his butt off.”

But after the Twins had taken the lead in the seventh, lefty reliever Glen Perkins struggled through the eighth, giving up three singles and an intentional walk, with an infield hit tying the game at 4.

Fundamentals came into play on the game-tying hit, as a single between second and first was fielded by Hughes, and Perkins did not get to first in time.

“I think Hughesy didn’t know that Lexi [Alexi Casilla] was playing hard pull,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “He’s got to know that, in the first place. … But still, our pitcher’s got to cover first base, so a couple screwed up plays there.”

Alex Burnett relieved Perkins, tossing a perfect ninth for his second win of the season, and setting up the Twins for a walk-off victory.

Young got things started with an infield single deep in the hole between third and shortstop. After a sacrifice bunt and intentional walk, Butera delivered for the win.

After dishing out a number of shaving cream pies to the face following walk-off hits this season, Butera finally got one in return on Sunday from Hughes, his roommate.

“He got me good,” Butera said. “I had it coming to me, though. I kept getting everybody on the team, so I had it coming to me.”

After flirting with a no-hitter his last time out, Francisco Liriano started strong before a couple bad innings nearly dealt him a loss. Liriano gave up just three runs on eight hits over seven innings for his second straight quality start and his fourth in five starts.

But trouble came for the Twins lefty in the fourth and fifth, when the Padres strung together seven hits and plated three runs. All seven of the hits were singles. For the game, the Padres’ had 11 singles and zero hits for extra bases.

“It was a hard seven innings, the ball was kind of flying all over the place off him,” Gardenhire said. “But to his credit, he hung in there pretty damn good, and he battled.”

Minnesota won for the 14th time in 16 games for their sixth sweep of the season. It was the Twins’ fourth walk-off victory and the second of the homestand, which saw them go 8-1 against the Rangers, White Sox and Padres.

As they head to a pair of National League parks for the first time this season as the hottest team in baseball, the Twins are no longer in last place for the first time since May 8.

“When I was here earlier, I think I was here for two weeks and we won two games, and one of them was the no-hitter with Frankie,” Tosoni said. “It was my first call-up and it was kind of tough because we weren’t winning too many games.

“Now, it’s awesome, [everybody] carrying one another. Winning’s always better, everybody knows that, so it’s been pretty good.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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