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Cuddyer continues strong May with three hits

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Michael Cuddyer watched as his fourth-inning
drive sailed toward the gap in right-center field.

In April, the ball would have hit off the Metrodome's big baggie
for a double or fallen into the glove of a leaping outfielder.

But this is May, and it reached the seats to send the Minnesota
Twins to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday
night.

Cuddyer went 3-for-3 to continue his strong hitting in May, and
Jacque Jones also homered in the victory.

"As the hits started coming, my confidence has raised a bit,"
Cuddyer said. "Confidence is a big thing in this game."

Kyle Lohse scattered seven hits over six innings to give the
Twins their second win by a starting pitcher in the last nine
games.

Dave Bush (0-4) rebounded from a rough outing against hapless
Kansas City, giving up seven hits and tying a season high with five
strikeouts in a complete game. But it wasn't quite good enough to
beat Lohse.

"It was a tough outcome, but I felt real good," said Bush, who
gave up four runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings of a loss to the
Royals on May 11. "Other than a couple of bad pitches on the home
runs, I was happy with the location and selection of my pitches."

Lohse (3-2) wasn't exactly thrilled with manager Ron Gardenhire
when he was skipped in the rotation the last time through so Johan
Santana and Brad Radke could stick to their normal routines.

Local reports said Lohse and Gardenhire had a tense meeting to
try and clear the air, but Gardenhire denied there was an argument.

"I told him, 'Don't believe what you read in the newspaper.' It
was not a heated meeting. It was a conversation of intellectual
people discussing baseball," Gardenhire said slyly, unable to keep
the smile off his face.

In his first start in 10 days, Lohse wasn't dominant, giving up
six hits and two runs on sacrifice flies by Frank Catalanotto and
Russ Adams in the first four innings. But he got out of a
bases-loaded jam in the fourth by getting Alex Rios to fly out and
gave up just one hit after that.

"I felt better as the game went on," Lohse said. "I made the
pitches when I had to and that's what pitching is all about."

Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his 12th save in 13
opportunities.

The Blue Jays were coming off an impressive offensive display
against Santana on Tuesday in a 10-3 win. Being aggressive and
swinging early in the count against Santana, Toronto battered the
AL Cy Young Award winner with seven runs and nine hits in 5 1/3
innings.

They were much more patient, and much less effective, against
Lohse.

The Blue Jays forced Lohse's pitch count to rise with long
at-bats, but they had little to show for it. Lohse threw 95 pitches
before he was relieved by Jesse Crain to start the seventh.

"I want to get the ball more," Lohse said. "I think I did a
pretty good job tonight. Hopefully I'll start getting the ball
every five days."

Bush gave up a 407-foot homer to Jones in the second, his fifth
of the year. Cuddyer followed with an infield single and stole
second base. He scored on a single to left by Luis Rivas for a 2-0
lead.

Adams' sacrifice fly tied the score at 2 in the fourth, but
Cuddyer's second homer of the season in the bottom half gave the
Twins the lead for good.

"The second home run hurt the most because we tied it in the
top of the inning," Bush said. "It was a fastball up and that was
the end of the story."

Cuddyer hit .205 in April, leading some to believe that he
wasn't the answer for the Twins, looking to replace longtime third
baseman Corey Koskie.

Through 13 games in May, Cuddyer is hitting .383 (18-for-47) and
has a seven-game hitting streak.

"It looks to me like he's settling in pretty good and becoming
a player," Gardenhire said. "It's not something we're looking at
too hard anymore. We're just letting him go out and play. I know
there were some questions. There's always going to be questions,
but hopefully you play through them and right now, it looks like
he's doing that."

Game notes
C Andy Dominique started for Toronto. He was called up to
replace injured Gregg Zaun and had a rough night. Dominique went
0-for-1, allowed two stolen bases and was hit by a pitch before
being pinch-hit for in the seventh. ... Koskie's sore ribs kept him
from playing 3B in the series opener on Tuesday, but he was back in
the field Wednesday. ... Toronto 1B Eric Hinske got into an
argument with plate umpire Mike Everitt in the fifth when he
claimed he was hit by a pitch from Lohse. Manager John Gibbons came
to Hinske's aid, but Everitt refused to relent.