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SEA@MIN: Willingham drills a two-run homer in eighth

MINNEAPOLIS -- After erupting for 10 runs in Wednesday's win over the Mariners, the Twins were hoping that performance would jumpstart their slumping offense.

But it wasn't to be on Thursday afternoon, as Minnesota rallied late but it wasn't enough in a 5-4 loss to Seattle at Target Field.

The loss dropped the Twins back to 25 games under .500, as they've now lost 17 of their last 21 games. In those 17 losses, the Twins have scored a total of 41 runs while scoring 32 in their four wins.

"It's frustrating and it's disappointing at the same time," said left-hander Brian Duensing, who gave up four runs (three earned) over 5 1/3 innings to get saddled with the loss. "We feel like we have a good team. Good offense and good pitching and everything. We just can't quite put it together. ... We just have to keep going out there and doing whatever we can. By no means are we going to accept a loss or accept the way things are going."

Right-hander Blake Beavan, who entered with a 5.10 ERA, tossed seven strong innings to limit the Twins offensively. He gave up two runs on five hits while striking out just one and walking two.

The Twins scored those two runs in the opening frame but cooled off against Beavan after that. Alexi Casilla brought home the first run with a single before Justin Morneau provided a sacrifice fly.

"I just started focusing on throwing my off-speed for strikes," Beavan said of his adjustments after the first. "I didn't use my fastball as much today, but that's why I've got a curveball now. That's a big pitch for me when I get it over for strikes. And today was probably the most I've used my changeup since I've been in the big leagues."

Duensing, meanwhile, settled down after giving up a run in the first inning on an RBI single from Kyle Seager but ran into trouble in the sixth inning when the Mariners rallied for four runs.

Duensing loaded the bases with nobody out before giving up a sacrifice fly to Seager to tie the game at 2. He was then removed from the game in favor of right-hander Casey Fien, who was unable to limit the damage.

Fien did get Jesus Montero to hit a fly ball to left for what should've been a routine sacrifice fly, but left fielder Josh Willingham dropped the ball for an error as the Mariners retook the lead.

"I just didn't do a lot early to help us win the game today," Willingham said. "I just missed it. I just missed the ball."

The mistake came back to haunt the Twins, as Trayvon Robinson came through with a two-out, two-run single.

"It was a slider," Robinson said. "He didn't throw me any fastballs, he was throwing straight sliders. The first one I just saw it and it wasn't my pitch to hit in an early count. I just stayed within myself and looked for a strike and put the ball in play hard and it got through."

Willingham, though, brought the Twins within a run on a two-run blast off reliever Stephen Pryor with two outs in the eighth, but Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen was able to shut down Minnesota in the ninth, stranding runners at first and third.

"The guys ran it all the way to the end there and had an opportunity to tie it up," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had the chance to tie the game or win the ballgame, but we just couldn't come up with one more big hit."

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