Series: Game 1 of 2

Minnesota leads 1-0 (as of 7/21)

Game 1: Monday, July 21
Game 2: Tuesday, July 22

Mariners 4

(59-38, 32-19 away)

Twins 5

(49-49, 27-23 home)

    8:05 PM ET, July 21, 2003

    Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

    123456789 R H E
    SEA 000000400 4 9 0
    MIN 12100001 - 5 13 0

    W: J. Rincon (2-3)

    L: A. Rhodes (2-3)

    S: E. Guardado (23)

    Twins win fifth straight; M's lose third in a row

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Back to the .500 mark, the Minnesota Twins have nearly forgotten about their awful first-half finish.

    Chris Gomez hit a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning to lead Minnesota to its fifth consecutive victory, 5-4 over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.

    "We're just playing better overall baseball," said Gomez, who's 8-for-20 with four RBI during the streak.

    Minnesota had lost lost 22 of 28 going into the All-Star break.

    "A lot of stuff is going our way now," Gomez said.

    Torii Hunter homered and Shannon Stewart went 2-for-4 with an RBI for Minnesota, on its best stretch since winning six straight from May 4-9.

    "Hopefully we can keep on rolling," said manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team moved within 5{ games of first-place Kansas City in the AL Central and evened its record (49-49) for the first time since July 8.

    Mark McLemore keyed a four-run rally in the seventh with a two-run double for the AL West-leading Mariners, who have won only one of their last six series. Seattle, which finishes a two-game set with the Twins on Tuesday night, has dropped three straight games for the first time since April 9-11.

    "I like to look at it as a positive sign that we don't give up early in the game," manager Bob Melvin said. "That's a sign of a team that keeps clawing. That's what we'll continue to do."

    Hunter led off the eighth with a single against Arthur Rhodes (2-3), and A.J. Pierzynski forced him at second with a fielder's-choice grounder. Jacque Jones hit a long single off the tall wall in right, and Gomez hit a soft liner over McLemore's head at shortstop off Jeff Nelson.

    It's the first time this year Seattle's bullpen has lost back-to-back games.

    Signed to a minor league contract in January, Gomez is batting .296 in 115 at-bats. He has been very valuable for the Twins with third baseman Corey Koskie on the disabled list with a back injury.

    "He's played very well at third base -- that's big shoes to fill," Gardenhire said. "He's gotten a lot of big hits for us."

    Juan Rincon (2-3) struck out both batters he faced in the eighth for the victory, and Eddie Guardado pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 23rd save in 25 chances.

    After sweeping a four-game series from Oakland over the weekend, the Twins scored four times in the first three innings against Seattle's young righty, Joel Pineiro, who had won six straight starts.

    Pineiro, who has three of the four victories by the Mariners' rotation this month, gave up four runs and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings while walking one and striking out three.

    "They've been hot. They've been on a roll," he said. "They kept it going. They either get me early or they don't get me."

    Twins starter Kyle Lohse was 0-4 with an 11.00 ERA in his last previous six starts after going 4-1 with a 1.96 ERA in the eight outings before that. He gave up just two hits through five inning and didn't allow a runner to reach second base until two were out in the seventh.

    That's when trouble bean -- six straight batters reached base, four on two-strike pitches. Mike Cameron got a double when his ball glanced off the glove of a diving Cristian Guzman at shortstop and into shallow left.

    Lohse thought he had Ben Davis struck out, but Davis walked. McLemore doubled in Seattle's first two runs, and LaTroy Hawkins came in as Lohse shot a frustrated stare toward home plate umpire Dana DeMuth on his way to the dugout after allowing five hits, three runs and two walks in 6 2-3 innings.

    Hawkins gave up RBI singles to Ichiro Suzuki and Randy Winn that tied the game at 4, but the Twins rallied against Rhodes -- who gave up a two-run, walk-off homer to Kansas City's Carlos Beltran on Sunday -- and Nelson.

    "That's two of the best in the league at what they do," Gardenhire said.

    Game notes

    Seattle DH Edgar Martinez left with tightness in his left calf after a walk and single, and Melvin doubted he'd be able to play Tuesday. "He was wise enough to take himself out -- hopefully that will cut it to a minimum," Melvin said. ... Bloomquist played 3B in place of Jeff Cirillo, who's hitless in his last 18 at-bats. ... The Twins beat Seattle at home for just the third time in 13 games. ... Stewart is now 7-for-16 with the Twins since his acquisition from Toronto last week. ... Hunter hit his 17th homer, his fourth in the last six games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press