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Twins fall to Felix Hernandez and Mariners in 6-2 loss

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MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins had an early lead and were going for a sweep against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.

But Felix Hernandez had other ideas.

Hernandez (5-1) continued his recent domination of the Twins, giving up two runs and seven hits over eight innings while striking out five and walking one and the Mariners earned a 6-2 win.

In his past four starts against Minnesota, Hernandez has pitched 34 innings and allowed three earned runs with 30 strikeouts.

"You'd like to finish it off today, going against a good pitcher like that, that would have been something to beat him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

"Still won two out of three, won the series, and we've done that the last three series. So if we can continue that pace, we'll be OK."

The Twins took an early 2-0 lead on Hernandez on Trevor Plouffe's two run single in the third.

But the Mariners came right back and scored a run off Twins starter Ricky Nolasco (2-4) in the fourth and two in the fifth, allowing Hernandez room to settle into a grove.

"We got to him, we were thinking at that point, let's get some more," Jason Kubel said. "We had a 2-0 lead, but we couldn't build on that."

The Twins have taken two of three from Detroit, Boston and Seattle, and after Monday's day off, play two at San Diego then a three-game weekend set at San Francisco.

"That's our goal is to win series. Would have liked to get this last one here," Plouffe said. "But we'll take it and see what we can do against the National League."

Seattle snapped a four-game losing streak and avoided being swept, and the Twins have won six of nine overall.

The Twins won a replay challenge in the third inning that helped Minnesota take the early lead.

With a man on first and nobody out, shortstop Danny Santana hit a dribbler to first baseman Justin Smoak, who flipped the ball to Hernandez covering at first. Santana was ruled out on the play, but replays showed that his foot hit the bag just before the pitcher arrived.

Hernandez almost got out of the jam, striking out Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer on two-strike sliders, but Plouffe scored both runners with a two-out single to right-centre.

"I made one mistake, I left that slider a little bit up against Plouffe," Hernandez said. "It was off the plate. He put a good swing on it."

The Mariners rallied on Kyle Seager's RBI single in the fourth, but Nolasco avoided further damage by striking out Brad Miller with the bases loaded to end the threat.

Nolasco's ability to avoid trouble ran out in the fifth. James Jones led off with an infield single, then scored on Michael Saunders' triple to right field. Robinson Cano followed with a shot off the centre field wall for an RBI double that gave Seattle a 3-2 lead.

Saunders added a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, Justin Smoak had an RBI double in the seventh and Cano scored on a wild pitch in the ninth as the Mariners pulled away.

Notes: The Twins added depth to their bench by recalling from Triple-A Rochester utility man Chris Herrmann. To make room for Herrmann, pitcher Michael Tonkin was optioned to Rochester. ... Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said that the team will decide later this week whether 1B/OF Logan Morrison is ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment. Morrison has missed five weeks with a strained right hamstring. ... Seattle DH Corey Hart left the game in the fourth inning after straining his left hamstring while stealing second base. ... Cano's single in the fourth extended his on-base streak to 26 games, the longest in the major leagues this year. ... The Twins will send RHP Kevin Correia (1-5, 6.80) to the mound when they open a two-game series at San Diego on Tuesday. ... The Mariners also have a day off Monday. They will travel to Texas for a two-game set against the Rangers, with RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0, 1.59) starting on Tuesday.

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