The Minnesota Twins finally got a reprieve Saturday afternoon when they did not have to face an All-Star starting pitcher.
At times during a 4-0 win over the Seattle Mariners, it looked like the Twins had one of their own in Samuel Deduno.
The 30-year-old right-hander pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits, and Twins hitters did most of its damage against the Seattle bullpen.
Brian Dozier and Justin Morneau each hit solo home runs in the seventh inning to help Minnesota (45-56) pull away and improve to 6-3 since the All-Star break.
"Deduno's the story," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He pitched great and got us deep into the game."
Deduno (7-4) struck out six while holding an opponent scoreless for the second time in his 12 starts this season. Seattle ended up with six hits while being shut out for the first time since June 19.
Mariners starter Aaron Harang marked the first non-All-Star to start against the Twins in four games. The Angels' Jared Weaver and Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez silenced the Minnesota bats on consecutive days -- Minnesota scored just one run against the three starting pitchers.
Harang (5-9) was pretty effective himself while allowing just three hits and one run in five innings. But he struggled to throw first-pitch strikes and labored through at-bats. He ended up throwing 107 pitches through five innings, after which he gave way to the bullpen.
"I felt like I was making good pitches, but it was definitely a battle today," Harang said. "A lot of foul balls. ... I felt good enough to go back out there (for the sixth), but obviously that's kind of the magic number: if you throw 100 pitches, that's it."
Harang had to adjust to a new catcher in Humberto Quintero, who was signed by the Mariners the previous day, but said the pair needed only about three minutes to get up to speed before the game.
"I've faced him before," Quintero said. "I've seen his four-seamers, sinkers, sliders, so I had a pretty good idea what he was going to throw."
The only run the Twins managed off Harang came when Morneau led off the fourth with a double and later scored on a Clete Thomas groundout.
The Seattle bullpen didn't provide much relief, getting the first two outs of the sixth before allowing four consecutive batters to reach base. After a Chris Colabello single, Mariners reliever Charlie Furbush walked back-to-back batters and was pulled in favor of Yoervis Medina, who issued a bases-loaded walk to Aaron Hicks to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead.
Dozier led off the seventh with a home run an d Morneau added a solo shot of his own two batters later. It was Morneau's eighth home run of the season and his first since July 8.
The closest the Mariners came to scoring on Deduno was in the seventh when Seattle's Justin Smoak drilled a towering shot down the right field line with a runner on base -- only to see the ball sail inches outside the foul pole. Smoak eventually walked, and the Twins got a double play to get Deduno out of the inning.
Gardenhire said it was nice to see another solid performance from Deduno.
"They were swinging and looking back to see where the ball was," he said of Seattle's hitters. "That tells you how bad they were missing."
NOTES: The Mariners optioned RHP Hector Noesi to Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday and recalled RHP Brandon Maurer. Noesi had a 5.65 ERA in nine games, mostly as a long reliever, for Seattle this season. Maurer has been a starter his entire career but will likely serve as a long reliever out of the bullpen. ... Quintero made his Mariners debut when he was behind the plate to give 41-year old Henry Blanco a break after playing 13 innings the previous night. Quintero was signed Friday when the team placed C Mike Zunino (broken hand) on the 15-day disabled list. ... The win was Minnesota's first in a nine-inning game since a 4-3 victory over the Angels on Monday. ... Friday night marked the 53rd time in his career that Hernandez has pitched eight or more innings while giving up one run or fewer. He now has 11 no-decisions and two losses in those 53 starts.