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Hughes finds homers costly in duel with Hernandez

Twins starter strikes out 9, walks none in 8 innings

SEATTLE -- Phil Hughes didn't win Friday night, but he pitched eight strong innings for a complete game. There just wasn't much he could do, and there wasn't much at all that the Twins hitters could do against Mariners starter Felix Hernandez, who pitched a 2-0 shutout.

But there were some positive signs for the right-hander, and that means positives for Minnesota moving forward.

For one, the nail on the middle finger of Hughes' pitching hand that was cracked in his prior start was not a problem. Hughes found a solution during his four days off in the form of Gorilla-brand glue, and he was able to get through his eight innings of two-run, nine-strikeout, no-walk ball without having to even think about the finger.

"If I keep throwing the [Gorilla brand] name out there, I'm hoping they might send me a shipment of glue, but I haven't heard anything yet," Hughes joked.

The Twins were encouraged by the work of Hughes, who kept them in a tough game and could have come out victorious if Hernandez wasn't so dominant. Hughes, who lowered his season ERA to 4.39 while falling to 0-4, ended up throwing his fourth career complete game and he has only walked two batters in 26 2/3 innings this year.

Hughes said he felt good about his effort but wanted two pitches back -- the "front-door cutter" that Mariners right fielder Nelson Cruz launched into the upper deck in left field in the second inning and the two-seam fastball that stayed up in the zone, allowing Logan Morrison to line it into the seats in right center in the fifth.

"Going against Felix, you've got to be on top of your stuff," Hughes said. "He's one of the best in the business. And you can live with maybe … giving up one run. Cruz has been white-hot right now. But the second one was kind of a killer."

Those slip-ups might not have been so costly had the Twins capitalized on a first-and-third, no-out opportunity in the sixth or a first-and-third, two-out situation in the seventh, but in a game that only took two hours and three minutes, there wasn't much time to ponder what went right and what went wrong.

If Hughes continues to operate that quickly and that efficiently, the Twins seem to like their chances.

"It was a crisp game with a lot of pace and a lot of strikes," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We knew we had our work cut out for us."

Doug Miller is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.
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