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Deduno, Dozier lift Twins over Mariners

Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer fields a ground ball in the second inning against the Seattle Mariners at Target Field in Minneapolis on Saturday. The Twins won 4-3. Jesse Johnson / USA Today Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Twins starter Samuel Deduno has a reputation around baseball for being effectively wild. On Saturday night against the Seattle Mariners, Deduno was just effective.

Deduno, starting his third game in place of injured right-hander Mike Pelfrey, picked up his first win of the season, allowing two runs and two hits in six innings of the Twins’ 4-3 victory at Target Field.

After starting the year in the bullpen, Deduno has been a quality addition to the starting rotation. After Pelfrey’s 0-3 start with a 7.99 ERA, he went on the disabled list with a groin strain. Deduno, a starter for much of his career who started the season in the bullpen, was an easy plug-in for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who now has two quality starts in his first three outings.

“His pitches got better and better as the game went on,” Gardenhire said. “I thought his breaking ball definitely got better, he had a nice change-up going and his fastball early was moving all over the place.”

Deduno said he used his fastball early in the game to set up his off-speed and breaking stuff once he got ahead in the count.

“The weather is warming up a little bit, (which helps) with the grip,” Deduno said. “I like to use (the breaking ball) with two strikes for the strikeout. Today, it was pretty good.”

Deduno did not receive a run of support in either of his first two starts but got one early on Saturday thanks to a first-inning double by designated hitter Kurt Suzuki that drove in second baseman Brian Dozier.

Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, Dozier put the Twins ahead for good. He followed two one-out singles with his 11th home run of the season into the flower bed beyond the left field fence. His 11 homers are tied for the third most in the majors and lead all second basemen. It was the second time this season that Dozier has homered in back-to-back games.

“Gotta get on base. The home runs will come,” Dozier said. “Hats off to (Aaron Hicks) and (Eduardo Escobar), good job by them getting on base. First and third, nobody out is pretty good.”

Dozier’s blast spoiled a solid outing from left-hander Roenis Elias. He took the loss, allowing four runs (all earned), six hits and a walk in seven innings. He also struck out four.

“It was a pretty darn good pitch that (Dozier) hit out,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It’s tough. That’s baseball. I thought he threw exceptionally well. Hats off to Dozier because he hit a pretty good pitch.”

Trailing by one in the third, Seattle took their first lead of the series when a one-out walk to shortstop Brad Miller set the table for center fielder James Jones, who roped a liner down the right field line. Miller scored and Jones cruised into third with his first career triple. A sacrifice fly by right fielder Michael Saunders scored Jones and made it 2-1.

Seattle had a threat in the seventh against reliever Brian Duensing, getting a leadoff double from first baseman Justin Smoak. A flyout by left fielder Dustin Ackley moved Smoak to up a base and a walk by catcher Mike Zunino put runners at first and third with one out for pinch-hitter Stefen Romero. Duensing worked the count to 1-and-1 before forcing Romero to ground back to the mound, starting a 1-6-3 double play to work out of the jam.

A home run by Saunders off right-hander Jared Burton in the eighth made it 4-3, but Twins closer Glen Perkins, pitching for the third time in four days, worked around a leadoff single to close the door for his 12th save.

It was the second straight one-run loss for the Mariners and third in their last four outings.

“We just didn’t get that big hit. The last three or four games, we haven’t gotten that one hit that puts us over the top,” McClendon said. “One thing here and one thing there will cause you to lose. We’ll figure this offense out and we’ll be OK.”

The Twins will go for the sweep on Sunday, sending right-hander Ricky Nolasco to the mound (2-3, 5.51 ERA). The Mariners will counter with ace Felix Hernandez (4-1, 3.03 ERA).

  • Mariners CF James Jones’ third-inning triple extended his hitting streak to nine games. He is the third Mariner in club history to get a hit in his first nine starts in the big leagues.
  • Twins 2B Brian Dozier’s fifth-inning homer was his 11th of the season, the most among all second basemen in the major leagues and tied for the third most overall.
  • Twins C-DH Kurt Suzuki’s first-inning RBI double gave him 26 this season, most among all catchers in baseball.
  • Twins SS Eduardo Escobar went 1-for-3 on Saturday, extending his hitting streak to seven games. During that span, Escobar is hitting .444.