Hughes dominates Cubs as Twins roll
MINNEAPOLIS -- Phil Hughes tossed eight strong innings and was backed by four RBIs from Trevor Plouffe to help lead the Twins to a 7-2 win over the Cubs on Friday night at Target Field.
Hughes registered his third straight quality start, allowing just one run on two hits in his best start of the season. The lone run he gave up came on a solo blast from Anthony Rizzo in the fourth. He retired the last 15 batters he faced. Rizzo added a second solo homer in the ninth off reliever J.R. Graham for his second multi-homer game of the year.
Hughes outpitched Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who surrendered seven runs (six earned) on a career-high 11 hits. But he wasn't helped by his defense as the Cubs committed a pair of run-scoring errors in the first and sixth innings.
"They came out aggressive and I just wasn't making pitches and just didn't have it today," Hendricks said. "It was one of those days and hopefully I can just let it go quick and move on to the next one."
Plouffe paced the offense for the Twins, while Brian Dozier, Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar also registered multi-hit performances.
"Offensively, that was a big night for us," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We just haven't had many games of late where we put some runs on the board. We took advantage of the misplay early and got some big hits with runners in scoring position, which we haven't been getting a lot of lately."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Plouffe delivers four RBIs: Plouffe opened the scoring by reaching on a fielder's choice in the first inning on a potential double-play ball hit to shortstop Starlin Castro, who booted it to allow a run to score and held onto the ball to allow Rosario to score from second. Plouffe was credited with one RBI on the play, and added another on a double in the third to score Rosario after he led off with a triple. Plouffe gave the Twins some breathing room with a two-run double in the fifth. More >
Castro blamed himself for the mental gaffe.
"The mistake is on me," Castro said. "That's not supposed to happen. None. Not even one time. None. Never."More >
Rizzo swats pair: On Wednesday, Rizzo ended an 0-for-20 skid with a two-run homer, and on Friday, he led off the fourth inning with his 13th blast, launching a 2-2 pitch from Hughes into the right-center field seats, then launched his second of the game with two outs in the ninth. It was his second multi-homer game this season and ninth of his career. The first baseman began the night tied for third among National League first basemen in home runs.
Aggressive baserunning pays off: Rosario helped spark Minnesota's second run by scoring from second base on the fielder's choice from Plouffe, as he noticed Castro was still holding onto the ball after the misplay. Escobar's hustle helped the Twins in the sixth, as he laced an RBI single to center and went to second on the throw home. Miguel Montero's throw to second sailed into center field to allow a second run to score and Escobar to reach third.
"It's an alert play," Molitor said about Rosario scoring. "The guy kind of let his guard down a little bit. He rounded third and had a hold sign obviously, but checked to see what was going on and when he saw the guy drop his head, he took off. I like those plays and they can be a little bit of a momentum-shifter."
"It's definitely the best of the year so far. So far this year, it's been a bit disappointing for me. But coming off back-to-back wins over St. Louis, carrying the momentum over to tonight was big for us." -- Hughes, on his start, which gave the Twins their third straight win
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cubs' Chris Coghlan is the Major League leader in most consecutive games played, having strung together 129 straight games, dating back to last season. Next is the Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson at 102.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was 0-for-4, and his hitting streak, which was the longest active streak in the Majors, ended at 14 games. He batted .351 (20-for-57) during that stretch with five doubles, a triple, a home run, and six RBIs. It was the longest by a Cubs rookie since Jerome Walton's 30-game streak in 1989.
With a runner on and nobody out in the ninth, Dexter Fowler hit a grounder to shortstop for a potential double-play ball, but was ruled safe at first base by first-base umpire Manny Gonzalez. The play was reviewed, however, and the call was overturned to make it a 6-4-3 double play.
Cubs: The last time Jon Lester faced the Twins, he threw a shutout. That was last Aug. 7, 2014, when the lefty was pitching for the Athletics. Lester will start Saturday in the second game of the series at Target Field. He's struck out 74 while walking 20 in his 13 starts. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT.
Twins: Right-hander Trevor May starts in the second game of the series Saturday at 1:10 p.m. CT. May has been solid in June, as he's posted a 2.00 ERA in three starts to lower his ERA on the season to 4.26 in 12 outings.
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