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Homers send Twins to 5th straight win

SEATTLE (AP) — Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel homered on consecutive pitches, Delmon Young hit a two-run shot and the Minnesota Twins held on to tie their season-high with their fifth consecutive victory, 5-4 over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.

Jon Rauch allowed a leadoff double by Jose Lopez and RBI single by Josh Wilson to begin the ninth. Pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Jr. appeared for the first time in eight days and grounded into a fielder's choice. It would have been a double play had Justin Morneau not missed a short-hop throw at first base.

The double play came next when pinch-hitter Casey Kotchman sent a hard grounder into Morneau's glove over the bag. Morneau then threw to J.J. Hardy for the tag on pinch-runner Michael Saunders at second base. Rauch had his 13th save in 15 chances, and third in four days.

That made Francisco Liriano a winner for the first time since May 2.

Liriano (5-3) allowed eight hits and three runs — one on a wild pitch, the other two on ground balls — in six innings. He struck out seven to end his three-game losing streak.

Morneau doubled twice and had three hits to raise his major league-leading average to .377 as Minnesota finished 16-12 in May. Coupled with their 15-8 April, the Twins had consecutive winning full months (not counting partial Octobers) for the first time in three seasons.

They added four games to their lead in the AL Central in May. It is now 4½ games over Detroit.

Doug Fister (3-3) lost his AL lead in ERA to Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann while allowing a career high-tying three home runs in the first four innings Monday for Seattle.

The Mariners went 8-19 in May. The last time they lost so much in a month was May 2008, a season in which they finished with 101 losses and then started a complete remodeling of the franchise.

Seattle entered the month one game under .500 and one-half game out of first place in the AL West. They leave it 12 games under and eight games out.

Cuddyer was joking before the game how he hoped for his team's sake that Orlando Hudson returns soon to second base. The regular right fielder made his first start there since 2005. Hudson was back in Minneapolis learning a CT scan showed no structural damage in his left wrist from his game-ending collision with center fielder Denard Span on Sunday.

So what that Cuddyer's glove was half its usual size? It snared a hard one-hopper with a backhand stab before Cuddyer threw out Ichiro Suzuki in the seventh.

And his bat was still mighty large.

In the fourth, Cuddyer hit the first pitch he saw deep into the left-field bleachers for his sixth homer. Kubel followed with his sixth, on a first-pitch fastball, to make it 5-1.

It was the first time since Sept. 23, 2008, that Minnesota had homered on consecutive pitches, when Kubel and Young did it against the Chicago White Sox.

Just like that, Fister had allowed as many home runs as he had in nine starts this season.

Young put a hanging curveball in the second inning into the hand of a startled fan walking on a concourse way beyond left field and past the Twins' bullpen. That two-run shot followed Cuddyer's RBI single and made it 3-0.

Fister allowed five runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings. His ERA went from 2.03 to 2.45 in his first career start against Minnesota.

NOTES: The Twins expect Hudson to rejoin them Tuesday. Manager Ron Gardenhire says he doesn't know when Hudson will play again. The Twins hope it will be this week. ... Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said primary setup reliever Mark Lowe is not getting any better from pain in his lower back. He's been on the DL since May 5. RHP Brandon League (4-5) has been in far more pressure situations than was planned, and has often failed. ... Wakamatsu said starting SS Jack Wilson (strained hamstring) could begin a minor-league rehabilitation assignment Friday. He's been out since May 6.