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Surging Hughes dominates Padres to complete sweep

Twins move two games above .500 for first time this season

SAN DIEGO -- It's been quite a run of dominance for Phil Hughes.

After starting out the year with three subpar outings, Hughes has been on a roll, and he was at it again Wednesday night against the Padres.

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SAN DIEGO -- It's been quite a run of dominance for Phil Hughes.

After starting out the year with three subpar outings, Hughes has been on a roll, and he was at it again Wednesday night against the Padres.

View Full Game Coverage

Hughes continued his impressive run, turning in his sixth straight quality start, to outduel Tyson Ross and lead the Twins to a 2-0 win at Petco Park.

Hughes tossed seven scoreless innings, scattering seven hits and striking out seven, while not issuing a walk for his fifth straight start. The right-hander improved to 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA over his last six starts, and 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA on the season. He's also struck out 30 and walked just one over 39 1/3 innings in his last six outings.

"It's not a drastic difference -- I'm just attacking the strike zone and being aggressive," Hughes said of his turnaround. "It's been working out the last few starts. Not much is different. Just attacking and making some pitches."

Hughes had pinpoint control yet again, as he's faced 147 batters without a walk and ran just three three-ball counts all night. Veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki said he's not sure he's ever caught a pitcher on such a long streak without walking a hitter.

"He's a power guy, too, so that makes it even more impressive as a power guy who doesn't walk anybody," Suzuki said. "That's a good sign. And is probably why he's pitching so well."

The Padres simply didn't have many chances against Hughes, who was dominant and only found himself in trouble a few times. Hughes only allowed one runner to reach third, and the Padres went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

"He was good," Padres catcher Rene Rivera said. "He was throwing his fastball well and using his offspeed when he needed it. He was keeping us off balance."

San Diego's best scoring opportunity against Hughes came in the sixth, when Chase Headley and Yonder Alonso singled with nobody out. Jedd Gyorko grounded into a fielder's choice to put runners at the corners with just one out but Hughes was able to get out of the jam. Hughes struck out Will Venable on eight pitches before getting Cameron Maybin to ground out to short on a first-pitch cutter.

"I made some good pitches in the sixth to get out of a tight spot," Hughes said. "That was big. I thought the 2-2 pitch [to Venable] was a strike so I had to reset myself. Kurt signaled for a backdoor cutter, and I thought that was a good idea. It was working good all night and so I made a good pitch for a big out. And then Maybin was seeing the ball well and had a couple hits to that point but I threw a cutter down and away and was able to get him to ground out."

Ross was also solid for the Padres, allowing just one run on three hits and three walks with eight strikeouts, but the right-hander was saddled with the hard-luck loss.

"He was filthy," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He had a great slider, as advertised, and threw some good changeups, too. My hitters said he has that breaking ball and changeup, but it's hard to sit on them because you have to respect that fastball."

The Twins scored their lone run against Ross in the sixth with Joe Mauer starting the rally with a one-out walk. Mauer then stole second base with Trevor Plouffe at the plate for his second stolen base of the season.

Plouffe reached on an infield single to put runners at first and third with one out, and Chris Parmelee came through with a sacrifice fly to right field to score Mauer from third. Plouffe also reached third on the play, as he tried to advance to second on the throw home, which was cut off by Headley, but the throw to second skipped into the outfield. Plouffe, though, was stranded at third, as Jason Kubel flied out left to end the inning.

Minnesota added an insurance run in the eighth on a solo shot from Plouffe off reliever Dale Thayer. It was Plouffe's third of the year, and came on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.

"We were only up one there so a little bit of insurance is good," Plouffe said. "I got the count to 3-2 and fouled a couple of pitches off so it got to the point where I kinda knew a fastball was coming. So I got a good pitch to drive."

Reliever Casey Fien threw a scoreless eighth for the Twins before closer Glen Perkins tossed a scoreless ninth to get his 14th save. It gave the Twins a two-game sweep of the Padres, and they improved to 23-21 to go two games above .500 for the first time this year. They've also won eight of 11 and four straight series.

"It's fun," Fien said. "We come to the field and we expect to win. When you have that going, that's all you need. We have that confidence, and we want to build on that."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.

Minnesota Twins, Phil Hughes, Joe Mauer, Chris Parmelee, Trevor Plouffe