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Associated Press, Published August 19 2012

Mariners send Twins to their fifth straight loss

SEATTLE – Michael Saunders is showing signs of snapping out of his terrible slump.

Saunders hit a two-run homer, Blake Beavan pitched into the sixth inning and the Seattle Mariners beat the Minnesota Twins 5-1 on Sunday for their fifth straight victory.

Seattle completed a three-game series sweep and has won 12 of 13 at Safeco Field. Minnesota lost its fifth in a row.

The Mariners held a slim 2-1 lead before Saunders drove a 1-0 pitch from Jeff Gray over the wall in right in the seventh. Dustin Ackley, who led off with a double, was aboard for Saunders’ career-best 11th homer.

Saunders went 5-for-12 in the series against Minnesota to raise his August batting average to .155.

“I was certainly struggling there for a while,” he said. “I was trying too hard, over-swinging, trying to do more than I was capable of doing. I just tried to back to ground zero.”

Ground zero, for Saunders, is his refigured swing honed during the offseason. He came into the season with a .196 career average in three years with the Mariners but got off to a strong start in 2012. He was hitting as high as .282 in mid-June but has been on a steady decline since.

“Everyone goes through slumps now and then. Mine was too long,” he said. “I felt like I needed to ease off the ease-o-meter.”

He was mired in a

2-for-42 rut before the Twins came to town. Sunday’s homer was his first since July 24.

“There were different mechanical issues I had to figure out and certainly a different mental approach I needed to figure out coming into this year,” he said. “There are signs of success but there are also signs I need to keep going. I can’t get complacent or content. The last couple weeks showed me that.”

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he is pleased with Saunders’ season and added: “He’s going to be better. He’s a complete player. He helps us win so many different ways. I’ve been very pleased with him. He’s just scratching the surface.”

Beavan (8-7) also is showing some progress after a first-half demotion to the minors. Since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma, he is 5-1 with a 3.74 ERA in six starts.

“It’s so much easier when you throw good pitches,” said Beavan, who allowed one run and seven hits in 5Zc innings against the Twins. “I’m just trying to make one pitch at a time and go from there.”

Samuel Deduno (4-1) issued six walks in six innings for Minnesota, but limited Seattle to two runs and five hits.

Trevor Plouffe put the Twins in front with a sacrifice fly in the second inning, but the Mariners took advantage of Deduno’s wildness to take the lead in the third.

Minnesota Seattle

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Revere cf 4 0 0 0 Ackley 2b 4 2 2 0

ACasill 2b 4 0 0 0 MSndrs cf 4 2 2 2

Mauer dh 5 0 1 0 Seager 3b 2 0 1 0

Wlngh lf 4 1 1 0 Jaso c 2 1 0 1

Mornea 1b 3 0 1 0 JMontr dh 4 0 0 0

Doumit c 4 0 2 0 Smoak 1b 3 0 1 0

Plouffe 3b 2 0 0 1 Thams rf 4 0 3 1

MCarsn rf 4 0 1 0 TRonsn lf 3 0 0 0

Flormn ss 3 0 1 0 Kawsk ss 4 0 0 0

Totals 33 1 7 1 Totals 30 5 9 4

Minnesota 010 000 000— 1

Seattle 002 000 30x— 5

DP—Minnesota 3. LOB—Minnesota 11, Seattle 9. 2B—Willingham (24), Florimon (1), Ackley (17), Thames (11). HR—M.Saunders (11). SB—A.Casilla (15), M.Saunders (17). SF—Plouffe.

IP H R ER BB SO

Minnesota

Deduno L,4-1 6 5 2 2 6 2

Gray 1 4 3 3 1 0

Perkins 1 0 0 0 0 3

Seattle

Beavan W,8-7 5Zc 7 1 1 1 3

C.Capps H,1 Xc 0 0 0 1 1

O.Perez H,4 Xc 0 0 0 1 1

Kinney S,1-1 2Zc 0 0 0 2 0

HBP—by Deduno (M.Saunders).

T—3:07. A—22,635 (47,860).