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Twins can't hang on to early lead, fall to Reds

Minnesota drops eighth straight despite scoring five in first inning
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- It keeps getting uglier for the Twins.

Fresh off sweeps at the hands of the Rays and Yankees, the Twins headed home looking to turn it around against the Reds, who entered with the worst record in the Majors. But the Twins couldn't hold a four-run lead, as right-handers Phil Hughes and Tyler Duffey struggled in a 15-9 loss that extended Minnesota's losing streak to eight games on Friday night at Target Field.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- It keeps getting uglier for the Twins.

Fresh off sweeps at the hands of the Rays and Yankees, the Twins headed home looking to turn it around against the Reds, who entered with the worst record in the Majors. But the Twins couldn't hold a four-run lead, as right-handers Phil Hughes and Tyler Duffey struggled in a 15-9 loss that extended Minnesota's losing streak to eight games on Friday night at Target Field.

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"This one especially stings just because of the situation we were in, having an early lead and letting it slip away like that," Hughes said. "That's the most disappointing part. It was a chance to come back after a tough road trip and put it behind us. It stings especially more because of that."

Twins pitchers combined to allow 20 hits, with the Reds scoring in every inning except the second, sixth and eighth, as Cincinnati outscored them 11-1 after the Twins took an 8-4 lead in the fourth.

"With every day that passes the test gets a little bit larger, there's no doubt about that," Twins manager Molitor said of the losing streak. "None of them are easy, but this one hurts, especially the fact that we got off to a good start and had a little bit of a lead to work with."

Video: CIN@MIN: Rosario cracks an RBI double to right

Hughes, making his second start of the season after opening the year on the disabled list with a left oblique strain, saw the Twins score five runs in the first off right-hander Luis Castillo, but scuffled from the start and wasted the early run support. It's fair to wonder if he'll get another chance in the rotation after posting a 7.71 ERA while throwing a combined seven innings in his first two starts. Molitor wouldn't say what the status of the rotation is going forward, but it sounds like Hughes could get another chance.

"The starts have really backed us up and put us in a rough spot in just how we get through games," Molitor said. "One of your worst nightmares is not having enough pitching to get through nine innings on any given day and we've been in that spot a couple of times. Phil's going to have to figure some things out."

Hughes gave up a homer to Jose Peraza in the first and was hurt by two walks in the third with Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez cashing in with back-to-back RBI singles. He allowed another run in the fourth on a two-out RBI double from Jesse Winker that knocked him from the game after 3 2/3 innings.

Video: CIN@MIN: Sano smacks an RBI single up the middle

"It's really frustrating," Hughes said. "I pride myself in being a guy who attacks the zone and is able to throw a lot of strikes and to be in so many bad counts is a position that I can't afford to be in."

The Twins, though, carried an 8-4 lead after four innings, highlighted by the first inning in which they got RBI hits from Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario and a two-run homer from Logan Morrison. Morrison added to the lead with an RBI single in the third before scoring on a double from Robbie Grossman. In the fourth, Max Kepler brought home a run on a double to score Joe Mauer with the Reds botching the relay throw home.

But the Reds charged right back with a six-run fifth inning. Duffey allowed five runs (four earned) while recording just one out. Joey Votto, who reached base safely six times, set the tone with a leadoff homer and it only got worse from there. Duffey didn't help himself with a throwing error on a comebacker with one out. Tucker Barnhart tied the score with a sacrifice fly before Billy Hamilton tripled home a run and scored on a wild pitch from Ryan Pressly.

Video: CIN@MIN: Rosario lifts a solo homer to right-center

"When they put together the six-run inning, it just happened so fast," Molitor said. "Duff goes out there and before you know it, in a limited amount pitches, they did a lot of damage and we couldn't slow them down."

Cincinnati tacked on a run in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk to Scott Schebler, issued by right-hander David Hale, who joined the Twins on Friday after being claimed on waivers and was designated for assignment after the game. Peraza added his second homer of the game with a solo shot off Hale in the ninth. Trevor Hildenberger also scuffled, giving up a two-run double to Adam Duvall and sacrifice fly to Banhart.

Minnesota didn't score again until a solo homer from Rosario in the ninth after the Reds had already put the game away.

SOUND SMART
Morrison showed some signs of getting out of his season-long slump with his two-run homer in the first and his RBI single off the right-field wall in the third. The single was the second-hardest hit ball of the season for the Twins with an exit velocity of 112.5 mph. The only ball hit harder by a Twins player this season was Sano's homer that left the bat at 114.6 mph on Wednesday.

HE SAID IT
"We're looking at all our options. So far nothing has been decided." -- Molitor. on potential roster moves coming to fortify the pitching staff

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Morrison's two-run homer in the first was reviewed, as it hit off the top of the wall in right-center field. Morrison ran hard out of the box and reached third before he realized the umpires had signaled for a home run. But after a review, the call on the field stood, giving Morrison his second homer of the year. It left the bat at 101.3 mph at a launch angle of 27 degrees, going a projected 409 feet, per Statcast™.

Video: CIN@MIN: Morrison's homer to right-center stands

UP NEXT
After getting roughed up for five runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Yankees last time out, right-hander Jake Odorizzi will be looking to turn it around against the Reds in the second game of the series on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. CT at Target Field. Odorizzi (1-2, 4.50 ERA) has a career 3.04 ERA in four starts at Target Field. The Reds will counter with right-hander Sal Romano (1-2, 4.78 ERA).

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins