SEATTLE – A wild pitch, a misplayed fly ball and a fielder's choice by Adam Moore in a two-run seventh inning helped lift the Seattle Mariners to a 2-1 victory over the first-place Minnesota Twins on Sunday and avoid a three-game series sweep.
Luke French (3-4) allowed three hits, including a home run by Michael Cuddyer, in his seven innings.
Brandon League stranded the tying run at second by retiring pinch-hitter and 2009 AL MVP Joe Mauer to end a scoreless eighth. David Aardsma gave up a single to Orlando Hudson with one out in the ninth, but then got Cuddyer to hit into a broken-bat double play behind second base for his 25th save in 30 chances.
Seattle, 28 games under .500, won for just the second time in seven games. Baseball's worst offense scored two runs or fewer for the 58th time in 130 games — yet won this time thanks to Minnesota's messy bottom of the seventh.
The Twins stayed 4½ games ahead of the White Sox atop the AL Central.
Twins starter Carl Pavano (15-10) was cruising through six innings until Seattle's rally. He allowed five hits and the two runs in his seven innings for his third consecutive loss, and second on Minnesota's ending road trip.
Cuddyer jumped on French's 3-0 pitch that floated 84 mph about chest high and homered for the game's first run in the seventh inning. His 12th home run of the season soared two rows into the upper deck far beyond left field for Minnesota's third hit.
Pavano had held Seattle to just two hits at that point. But then Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman singled one out into the bottom of the seventh. Pavano's 1-2 pitch to Franklin Gutierrez skipped wide past catcher Drew Butera for a wild pitch that advanced the runners.
Gutierrez then hit a fly ball to which left fielder Delmon Young, wearing sun glasses and looking into a hazy glare, reacted slowly. Young's late attempt to lunge at the ball failed as it short-hopped off the grass and his glove for an RBI single that scored Lopez.
With Kotchman at third, Moore then sent a slow roller to shortstop J.J Hardy for a force out. But second baseman Hudson, who left Saturday's game early because he ankle "locked up," held onto a potential relay throw and double play at first base as Gutierrez slid under him and catcher Moore rumbled down the line. That allowed Kotchman to score the go-ahead run.
Minnesota got a two-out single from Hardy off League. That brought Mauer up to pinch hit, ending his planned day off. Pinch-runner Alexi Casilla stole second, but Mauer stranded him there with a groundout.
Notes: League, a native of Honolulu, lost a pregame bet with Suzuki on Sunday's Little League World Series final between Waipahu, Hawaii, and Tokyo. ... Seattle won for the first time in six games against the Twins, avoiding its longest losing streak to Minnesota since 1987-88.
(This version CORRECTS Mariners 2, Twins 1. Corrects jumbled sentence at the end of the 4th paragraph.)