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Rivas sparks Twins to fourth straight win

8/11/2003

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins have found the obvious
solution to their first-half troubles.

Better starting pitching.

Kyle Lohse pitched smoothly into the ninth inning and Luis Rivas
hit a two-run homer to lead Minnesota to its fourth straight
victory, 5-3 over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.

The Twins rotation is 7-3 with a 3.29 ERA in the last 12 games
after struggling through most of June and July. Minnesota lost 22
of 28 before the All-Star break.

"We've talked about it over and over," manager Ron Gardenhire
said. "When they get on a roll here, they can carry this
ballclub."

Lohse (9-9) won his third consecutive start for the Twins, who
improved to just 3-5 against the Indians this year. They're 17-8
since the All-Star break -- the second-best record in the majors in
that time.

"It's just a matter of not trying to do too much," Lohse said.
"Everyone was going out there trying to throw the perfect game."

Jody Gerut went 3-for-4 for Cleveland, which is 1-12 on the road
in the second half. Gerut and Ben Broussard doubled to begin the
ninth and chase Lohse, who gave up seven hits, three runs and two
walks while striking out three.

"A strong pitching performance -- that's key for them and
actually for anyone," Cleveland's Casey Blake said. "Lohse was
tough. He hides the ball pretty well, and he picked his spots
well."

LaTroy Hawkins relieved and gave up a single to Ryan Ludwick
before getting Travis Hafner to ground into a double play. Hawkins
got his first save since August 2001.

Minnesota, which hit five doubles, gave Lohse a 3-0 lead in the
bottom of the third inning against Jake Westbrook (5-7). Dustan
Mohr doubled and scored on a single by Cristian Guzman -- who was
2-for-16 on last week's road trip.

After two throws to first by Westbrook to keep Guzman close,
Rivas hit the first pitch he saw into the left-field seats. Rivas
is batting .327 with two of his four homers and 10 RBI in the last
13 games.

The Twins tacked on two more in the sixth. Torii Hunter was hit
by a pitch, without incident, and scored from first when A.J.
Pierzynski reached out and slapped a double down the left-field
line.

Hunter was ejected on July 4 for walking toward Indians pitcher
Jason Davis after a pitch came high and inside. Last year, Hunter
was fined and suspended three games for throwing a ball back at
Cleveland pitcher Danys Baez, who had hit him with a pitch.

Mohr's bloop single landed in shallow left-center to score
Pierzynski and make it 5-1. The Twins have won the first game in
six of their eight second-half series.

"It's a concerted effort, really," Mohr said. "Everyone
realizes the first game is a tone-setter."

Terry Mulholland started the seventh to relieve Westbrook, who
allowed eight hits, five runs and a walk while striking out three.

Lohse went 0-5 with a 10.95 ERA in eight starts from mid-June
through the end of July, not lasting longer than five innings over
that span. He's 3-0 in August, though, after recording his
team-high 15th quality start and tying for the club lead in
victories with Hawkins and Kenny Rogers.

Lohse didn't give up a hit until the fourth inning, when Blake
barely beat out a slow roller to third base. Blake, who advanced to
third when Gerut singled off the glove of diving second baseman
Rivas, scored when Broussard hit into a double play.

Speedy Coco Crisp led off the sixth with a bunt single, but he
was picked off.

Game notes
Michael Restovich entered as a pinch-runner in the eighth
for DH Jacque Jones, who reaggravated his nagging groin strain when
he reached on an infield single. Gardenhire wanted to pinch-hit for
Jones, but he was insistent on batting. "He's a little hard-headed
at times," Gardenhire said. ... After the game, the Twins optioned
1B Todd Sears to Triple-A Rochester and recalled OF Mike Ryan, who
adds some depth to the outfield after Jones' injury. .... Milton
Bradley was a late scratch from the Indians' lineup and missed his
third straight game with discomfort in his back. Hafner replaced
him as the DH. ... A moment of silence was held before the game for
famed hockey coach Herb Brooks, who died Monday in a car accident.