PHOENIX (AP) -- Nothing like a trip to Arizona to straighten out
a baseball team's troubles.
Doug Mientkiewicz drove in three runs with a home run and double
to help the Minnesota Twins beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-4
Saturday night and move into a virtual tie with the Chicago White
Sox atop the AL Central."It's that time of year. You never know what's going to
happen," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You just keep
playing. We get to the All-Star break with our head up, and we'll
be OK."Just a few days ago, the White Sox were coming off a sweep of
the Twins in Minnesota."That's how quick the world turns, doesn't it?" Gardenhire
said. "We get swept at home by then and all of a sudden people are
saying `Well, you've got to start rebuilding.' Then they lose two
and we win two and we're right back tied with them."The Twins bats have come alive in the desert.Mientkiewicz has just five homers all season, but two in the
last two games.Luis Rivas and Joe Mauer also homered for the Twins, and Terry
Mulholland earned his first victory in his first start of the
season."I think the guys are feeling pretty good about themselves,"
Gardenhire said. "We said once we start clicking, it's going to be
pretty fun."The Twins, who entered the series on a five-game losing streak,
can sweep three games from the Diamondbacks with a victory against
Randy Johnson on Sunday.Luis Gonzalez and Juan Brito homered for Arizona, 0-2 under new
manager Al Pedrique and losers of 13 of its last 15.On Friday night, the Diamondbacks rallied from a 5-0 deficit to
tie it before losing 6-5. Arizona was down 6-0 on Saturday before
mounting another comeback to cut it to 6-4.But Grant Balfour stifled the rally with two perfect innings of
relief, striking out five batters -- all swinging. Juan Rincon threw
a scoreless final two innings for his second save.Similar relief performances by J.C. Romero and closer Joe Nathan
helped the Twins win Friday."Confidence in pitching is huge," Balfour said. "If you're
going out there and doing well, it just seems to roll along. One
guy picks it up, and the next guy comes out, and we just feed off
of each other."Mulholland (1-3) got the start after the Twins optioned rookie
Matt Guerrier, the team's fifth starter, to Triple-A Rochester. He
allowed four runs on five hits in five innings to get his first
victory since Aug. 17 of last season, when he was pitching for
Cleveland.Mulholland said he wished he would have lasted longer, but
doesn't care whether he's a starter or a reliever."It doesn't matter," he said. "What matters is having a big
league jersey on and being given the ball to go out there and get
hitters out and contribute to a ballclub -- do all you can do to
help these guys get to the playoffs and hopefully the World
Series."Minnesota pounded starter Andrew Good for six runs on three
homers, two doubles and a single in 2 2-3 innings.Pedrique said Good's velocity was down and he wondered if
something was wrong with the righthander's arm. But Good said his
arm was fine, he just had a bad night."The changeup, during the game, I wasn't throwing for strikes.
I need to depend on that pitch and unfortunately it wasn't there,"
Good said, "and my fastball was up. Put those two together and
it's not too good."Good (0-2) walked Jacque Jones with one out in the second, then
Mientkiewicz homered and Rivas followed with a homer just over the
left-field fence and it was 3-0.Lew Ford led off the third with a double, then Mauer homered
into the deepest part of the ballpark, just left of the 413-foot
sign in left-center to make it 5-0.Jones singled with two outs, then Mientkiewicz doubled him home
to put the Twins up 6-0 and end Good's night.Gonzalez's 15th home run of the season cut it to 6-1 in the
fourth. Arizona scored three times of Mulholland in the fifth. Alex
Cintron singled, then Brito hit his second home run of the season.
Scott Hairston tripled and scored on Steve Finley's groundout to
make it 6-4.
Mulholland is playing for his 10th team in 18 major league
seasons. ... Hairston has five triples. ... Gardenhire said Matthew
LeCroy will start at first base against Johnson on Sunday.