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Johjima's monster day lifts Mariners over struggling Twins

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Seattle Mariners have been looking for
better production from the middle of their lineup.

All they had to do, it seems, was wait for the Minnesota Twins
to appear on the schedule.

Kenji Johjima had three hits, three RBI and a home run to lead
the Mariners to their third straight victory, 8-2 over the
flustered Twins on Monday night.

Six Seattle starters had at least two hits and the defense was
spectacular in support of Joel Pineiro (3-2), who tossed his ninth
career complete game and cruised behind a five-run sixth. He gave
up nine hits without a walk or a strikeout.

Jose Lopez and Matt Lawton each had three hits, Yuniesky
Betancourt went 2-for-4 with two RBI and Richie Sexson homered for
his 1,000th career hit.

"The meat of our order hasn't really done anything," said
Sexson, who has been struggling along with Carl Everett and Adrian
Beltre -- three sluggers making more than a total of $29 million
this season. "We're still winning games and floating around .500,
so that's good. As soon as we start clicking and doing some things
that we can do, we'll start winning more consistently."

Facing Minnesota sure helps.

The troubled Twins, who were hoping to write off a miserable
April as a mulligan, have lost 11 of 14. They've been outscored
41-3 while losing four straight.

A pitching staff that ranked seventh in the majors last year in
ERA and was supposed to be one of the best groups in the game is
now last in baseball with a 6.35 ERA. The starters have a
collective 7.25 ERA.

"Guys are trying. Guys are out there playing. You've also got
to score some runs, too," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Our
starters haven't been getting it done. Our offense has to pick them
up."

Lew Ford had two hits and an RBI, and Justin Morneau homered for
Minnesota, which is batting .251 as a team.

"I don't know what to say about it," Ford said in a silent
clubhouse. "It's just difficult right now."

Gardenhire provided a perfect picture of the frustration in the
bottom of the eighth inning when he came out to argue after Luis
Castillo was called out on a grounder to first that was close to
being foul.

After pleading briefly with umpire Brian Gorman, Gardenhire
trudged toward the dugout, tore off his hat and gave it an awkward
drop kick -- to the delight of the few fans left from the announced
crowd of 11,796.

That was Gardenhire's second ejection this season, and the 22nd
of his five-year career.

Mariners manager Mike Hargrove was sympathetic.

"Getting outscored 33-1 in Detroit, that's like a perfect
storm," Hargrove said. "It's one of those things that don't
happen very often. Thank goodness or we'd all probably commit
suicide."

Scott Baker (1-3), the one Twins starter who pitched
consistently well in April, had trouble keeping his breaking balls
down in the strike zone. He allowed 10 hits and five runs while
striking out three in 5 1-3 innings.

Ford's two-out single put Minnesota ahead 1-0 in the bottom of
the inning and ended an incredible 0-for-25 skid by the Twins with
runners in scoring position. But that came after Betancourt threw
out Shannon Stewart at home on a grounder to deep shortstop,
killing a bigger rally.

Seattle starters haven't received much run support this spring,
but Pineiro had plenty this time. He's won both of his road starts,
allowing only two runs in 15 1-3 innings.

"Once we got that eight-spot up there, I felt a little more
relaxed," Pineiro said. "I knew I had to throw strikes early in
the count and get some ground balls. That's what happened."

The Mariners took a 2-1 lead in the second when Johjima -- who
homered in his first two games but hadn't gone deep since -- hit a
2-0 pitch down the line and just inside the left field pole. They
tacked another one on in the third on Everett's sacrifice fly and
erupted in the sixth with five extra-base hits against Baker and
reliever Jesse Crain.

Crain, who gave up three runs and got only one out, has a 9.49
ERA in 12 1-3 innings. He went 12-5 with a 2.71 ERA in 75
appearances last season as a rookie.

Game notes
Betancourt, who also made a nifty backhanded stop of a
grounder in the hole and threw out Joe Mauer in the third, is one
of only two everyday shortstops in the majors without an error.
Houston's Adam Everett is the other. Beltre made a diving catch of
Rondell White's line drive at third. ... Ford is 6-for-14 with one
homer and five RBI in his career against Pineiro. ... This was
Lawton's first start in center field since May 2000, when he played
for the Twins. ... Morneau hit his team-high sixth homer leading
off the seventh.