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07/23/2013 3:14 AM EDT
Thomas homers off Blanton, Twins beat Angels 4-3
MINNESOTA 4, LA ANGELS 3

By JOE RESNICK
Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- After driving in a pair of runs with a
homer and a double, Clete Thomas had another chance to do some
damage in the eighth inning with runners at the corners and none
out.



He struck out against Dane De La Rosa, but more than made up for
that disappointment in the bottom half by robbing pinch-hitter
Chris Iannetta of a go-ahead homer to help the Minnesota Twins
beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 Monday night and hand Joe
Blanton his major league-worst 13th defeat.



Casey Fien gave up two hits in the eighth and was replaced by
All-Star closer Glen Perkins. Pinch-hitter Collin Cowgill
greeted the left-hander with an RBI single, and Iannetta drove
the next pitch on a high arc toward the left-field fence, where
Thomas made a leaping grab.



"I was kicking myself because I didn't get the run in, and then
I go out and kind of save the game by robbing a guy of a home
run. That's the best feeling ever," said Thomas, who also took a
homer away from Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera in Sunday's 7-1
victory at Target Field.



"Instead of being down by two in the ninth, we were up by one. I
knew I had a chance, as long as I had room and had a good read
on the ball. I had it the whole way. It was awesome."



Perkins escaped with his 24th save in 26 chances, extending his
scoreless streak to 19 1-3 innings after striking out Albert
Pujols and Howie Kendrick in the ninth with two on.



"It's the first time we've tried that with Perk - bringing him
on in the eighth inning to get an out there and see what
happens," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We said we were going to
do these things if we knew there was a lefty coming up. Perk's
our best pitcher, and he got it done."



Samuel Deduno (6-4) allowed two runs, four hits and five walks
over seven innings while striking out five on the anniversary of
his first big league victory. The 30-year-old right-hander faced
a lineup missing cleanup hitter Josh Hamilton because of
stiffness in his right ankle.



The Angels wasted a leadoff triple in the seventh by Conger when
Deduno struck out Erick Aybar and J.B. Shuck before retiring
Mike Trout on a grounder.



"Sammy was unbelievable against a very tough lineup that can do
a lot of things with the bat, and he made pitch after pitch,"
Gardenhire said. "His last inning of work out there was
unbelievable."



In the postgame clubhouse, the Angels were still in disbelief
over the way the final three innings played out.



"Chris missed by about 10 inches of getting a home run that was
going to put us ahead," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We
pressured them as the game went on. We had a runner on third
base with nobody out and couldn't score, and those things came
back to haunt us."



The Twins began a seven-game road trip with their fifth victory
in six games following a 1-12 slide.



Blanton (2-13) threw 90 pitches in 3 2-3 innings, giving up four
runs and nine hits. The beleaguered right-hander, who has
allowed a major league-worst 157 hits, is 0-5 with a 5.46 ERA in
10 starts at Angel Stadium after signing a two-year, $15 million
contract in December as a free agent. His only victories have
come against the Royals and Astros, who are a combined 38 games
under .500.



"Joe made some good pitches but he just missed with some spots,"
Scioscia said. "There's nobody trying harder than Joe, but it
just didn't come together tonight."



The Twins grabbed a 4-2 lead with a pair of fourth-inning runs.
Thomas put them ahead with his fourth homer and the 24th allowed
by Blanton, who leads the majors in that department.



Shuck threw out Aaron Hicks at the plate from left field as he
tried to score from second on Brian Dozier's single. But Doug
Bernier doubled on the next pitch for his first major league
hit, driving in Dozier.



Bernier, the Twins' 33-year-old shortstop, was playing in his
fourth big league game and making his first start in the majors
since June 19, 2008, with Colorado. He was recalled from
Triple-A Rochester on July 14, more than 11 years after signing
his first professional contract.



"It was nice to see a young kid - 33 years old - go out there at
shortstop and play like he did and get a big base hit for us,"
Gardenhire said.



The Angels opened the scoring in the first without the benefit
of a hit. Deduno walked his first two batters, both advanced on
a hit-and-run groundout by Pujols, and Kendrick drove in Shuck
with a sacrifice fly.



Minnesota took a 2-1 lead in the second on two-out RBI doubles
by Thomas and Hicks, the eighth and ninth hitters, but the
Angels tied it in the third with an RBI single by Trout that
extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games.



NOTES: Blanton, pitching for the first time since his angry
dugout confrontation with Iannetta and pitching coach Mike
Butcher during a 4-3 loss in Seattle on July 14, had Hank Conger
as his batterymate this time. "Hank works pretty good with Joe
right now, and we have to do everything we can do to get Joe on
board," Scioscia said before the game. ... In Blanton's five
starts with Conger behind the plate, he is 0-3 with a 4.97 ERA
and seven home runs allowed. In his 15 starts with Iannetta
flashing the signs, Blanton is 2-10 with a 5.90 ERA and 17
homers allowed. ... Hamilton was the only player on the Angels'
roster who had faced Deduno before Monday. ... Minnesota's
relievers have struck out 287 batters in 332 innings, 12 more
than the starters have fanned in 522 1-3 innings.

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