Lohse gives Twins eight innings; Nathan saves 22nd

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins got clutch hits from two
key players and a stellar outing from their fifth starter.

That is a formula they would love to follow the rest of the

Justin Morneau hit a three-run homer, Kyle Lohse pitched eight
strong innings and the Twins beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays again,
4-1 on Saturday night.

Joe Mauer added an RBI double for Minnesota, which won for the
fifth time in six games. Offense was hard to come by for the Twins
last month, but more contributions from budding stars Morneau and
Mauer will be critical toward their chances of making the playoffs
for a fourth straight season.

Likewise, a consistent second half from Lohse (7-6) will go a
long way for Minnesota, which currently leads the AL wild-card race
but remains well behind the White Sox in the Central Division.

"We're playing as good as we can right now," said Lohse, who
gave up just four hits and one walk while striking out six. "We
need to keep that going."

Jorge Cantu, a strong candidate to represent the reeling Devil
Rays in the All-Star game, drove in a run with a fourth-inning
single. They have lost seven of their last eight games overall and
seven in a row against Minnesota.

"His stuff was working," Cantu said. "There's nothing we can
do about it."

Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his 22nd save in 24 chances.

Seth McClung (0-4), making his second start since his recall
from Triple-A Durham last week, gave up six hits, four runs and
three walks in six innings. He struck out eight.

"Same thing as last time," McClung said. "Good, but not good

Lohse got help from left fielder Shannon Stewart, who made a
diving catch of Travis Lee's sinking liner to end the second and
leaped against the wall in the eighth to take an extra-base hit
away from Nick Green.

After totaling 27 victories over the previous two seasons, Lohse
stumbled to a 9-13 record with a 5.34 ERA last year and was even
worse this April. He had a strong May, going 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA,
but June brought mostly more troubles -- until he turned in six
shutout innings at Milwaukee last Sunday.

Lohse retired the first nine batters he faced, then found a bit
of trouble in the fourth when Carl Crawford led off with a single.
Cantu's single, the third hit of the inning, drove in Julio Lugo
and stopped Lohse's scoreless innings streak at nine.

But rookie Jonny Gomes, who is 3-for-30 with 12 strikeouts in
his last eight games, grounded into a double play to end that

"I didn't miss too many spots," Lohse said, "and I think it

"When I'm trying to do too much, that's when I'm going to get
in trouble," added Lohse, who lowered his ERA to 4.26.

With right-hander Brad Radke fighting soreness in his neck and
shoulder that will push his next start back three days, a
performance like this from Lohse looked even better.

"If we can keep him rolling like that with the rest of our
starters," manager Ron Gardenhire said, "we think we're pretty
good. We've always said that."

McClung, a hard-throwing right-hander, recorded all three outs
in the second by strikeout. But he also let Minnesota hit for the
cycle in the inning, including Morneau's towering shot to right
field -- his 11th -- that followed a single by Jacque Jones and a
double by Lew Ford.

The scouting report for Morneau told McClung to throw a fastball
up and in.

"It was a good pitch," McClung said. "He hit it a long way.
Now we know not to throw it there."

Mauer made it 4-1 in fifth with his two-out double after McClung
walked No. 9 hitter Luis Rivas to start the inning, and Tampa Bay
never threatened after that.

"We're not scoring many runs again," manager Lou Piniella

Game notes
Mauer had just two RBI and eight hits in his last 10
games. Morneau had just five hits in his previous 22 at-bats. ...
McClung's last start at the Metrodome, on April 30, 2003, was much
worse. He failed to get out of the second inning, allowing eight of
11 batters to reach and hitting two Twins with pitches. The one
that plunked Bobby Kielty followed a three-run homer by Torii
Hunter, prompting the Minnesota dugout to empty briefly. ... Devil
Rays reliever Doug Waechter has an injured tendon in his right
index finger, and he will be re-evaluated on Sunday. Piniella said
he might be out for a while.