Hunter's arm helps Twins hold off Mariners

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Torii Hunter showed his teammates why he'd
rather play center field than be the designated hitter.

Playing center field for just the second time in over a week,
Hunter threw out Scott Spiezio at the plate to end the seventh
inning and preserve Minnesota's 1-0 victory over the Seattle
Mariners on Thursday.

Hunter, a Gold Glove winner, has been relegated to a designated
hitter role since reaggravating his right hamstring May 4, an
injury that originally sent him to the disabled list April 7-24. He
went 0-for-4, but made the big play.

"When I go 0-for-4 as a DH, I feel like I didn't even earn my
paycheck," Hunter said. "But if I go help the team win with my
defense, something that I'm known for, then I'll take an 0-for-4
any day."

The Mariners had runners on first and second with two outs in
the seventh when pinch-hitter Dan Wilson looped a single into
center field. As Spiezio rounded third base, Hunter made a throw
that reached catcher Henry Blanco on the fly. Blanco moved up a
half-step to make sure the ball didn't skip on the dirt, then
lunged back to tag Spiezio on the arm as he tried to slide around
Blanco's glove.

"I was running no matter what," Spiezio said. "We forced him
to make an absolutely perfect throw, and he did.

"I was asking (Twins) third-base coach (Al Newman) if he makes
those throws all the time," Spiezio added. "He said yeah, but
they're usually on one hop."

Blanco alertly maneuvered himself into position catch the relay
on the fly and apply the tag.

"I didn't want to get a short hop," Blanco said. "I didn't
want to drop the ball and let the guy get behind me and score the
run. I wanted to make sure I caught the ball and made the tag."

Johan Santana pitched seven scoreless innings to get the win,
recovering from a shaky outing Sunday when he gave up four home
runs in Oakland.

"I was able to throw my fastball for strikes today," Santana
said of the difference in his last two games. "When you don't have
command of your fastball, then you're in trouble.

"We took a different approach today. Last time I threw too many
sliders and changeups. Today I threw the fastball early in the
game, early in counts. I told Henry that wasn't me the last time I

Santana (2-0) allowed six hits, walked two and struck out five,
and got help from Terry Mulholland, J.C. Romero and Joe Nathan to
complete the eight-hitter. Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his
10th save.

The Twins lost their last three series before completing their
first home sweep of the Mariners in 12 years.

Michael Cuddyer hit an RBI double in the second inning, driving
in Lew Ford with the game's only run.

Ryan Franklin (2-3) worked seven strong innings for Seattle,
allowing one run on seven hits while walking one and striking out
six, but the last-place Mariners lost for the fifth time in seven
games and fell to 12-22 overall, 10{ games behind Anaheim in the AL

"We're probably at the point where we're getting negative
thoughts in our heads," Franklin said of the team's early slump.
"But we've got to think positive"

The Mariners had 36 hits in the series, but 34 of them were
singles, and the eighth inning Thursday was indicative of their
struggles to come up with the timely extra-base hit.

Mulholland relieved Santana and allowed singles to Ramon
Santiago and Ichiro Suzuki to start the inning. After a sacrifice,
Edgar Martinez was intentionally walked to load the bases.

But Romero -- who allowed four runs while getting only one out
against Seattle on Tuesday -- coaxed Raul Ibanez to hit into a
fielder's choice that retired Santiago at the plate, then struck
out Spiezio to end the inning.

"I'll give him credit," Spiezio said. "I saw a lot of pitches
in that at-bat and he didn't make one mistake."

Game notes
The Twins face the AL Central-rival White Sox for the first
time this season in a three-game series at Chicago beginning
Friday. ... Santana has not lost a game since July 23 against
Kansas City. ... Suzuki had two singles to boost his current
hitting streak to 12 games. ... Cristian Guzman had two singles and
now has hit safely in all 10 games when he's batted second in the
Twins' lineup. ... Seattle was 5-1 against the Twins in the
Metrodome last year.