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Bad start, trio of errors key in Twins 10-4 loss to Pittsburgh

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MINNEAPOLIS — A failure to execute in a number of areas means the Minnesota Twins second-half swoon continues.

Andrew McCutchen hit a home run and turned an RBI single into a race around the bases while Minnesota made two errors in a five-run sixth inning, helping Francisco Liriano and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Twins 10-4 Wednesday for a two-game sweep.

Minnesota has lost four straight and is 3-8 since the All-Star Break.

"We're all out here to win, and it just hasn't been going our way," said Aaron Hicks, who had a season-high three hits.

Jung Ho Kang homered for the second straight day for the Pirates, after going deep for the go-ahead run in the ninth the night before. McCutchen's two-run, two-strike, two-out drive off Ervin Santana (2-1) in the fifth inning tied the game at 3, and the Twins unraveled in the sixth.

The game-breaking play was almost comical.

With two runs already in and runners on first and second, McCutchen lined a single to right field and crossed the plate three miscues later.

The ball bounced in front of right fielder Eddie Rosario and skipped past him to the warning track, allowing another run to score and McCutchen to reach third.

The slow-rolling relay throw scooted underneath Eduardo Nunez's glove for another error that allowed McCutchen to score — but not before he collided with Nunez, contact that was hard enough to knock them both to the ground. McCutchen was awarded the plate for an 8-3 lead.

"You can look at a lot areas that need improvement with the way we've been playing, starting, probably with managing and coaching," said manager Paul Molitor. "You're going to make mistakes and we learn from that and try to address those things best we can when they happen. ... We need to keep grinding."

Minnesota had four baserunning blunders — two by Miguel Sano. The slugger had an RBI single in the third, but was caught between first and second when the throw home was cut off. He ended the game trying to dive back to second after rounding the bag on an RBI double.

PHOTO: Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen, left, and Minnesota Twins third baseman Eduardo Nunez, right, roll after colliding on a four-run single by McCutchen in the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Pirates won 10-4. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen, left, and Minnesota Twins third baseman Eduardo Nunez, right, roll after colliding on a four-run single by McCutchen in the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Pirates won 10-4. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

"It's just how it goes. Nobody's trying to have baserunning errors or make errors. They just happened today; they just happened all in one game. All you can do is try your best not to do it, I guess," Hicks said.

Rosario lost a fly ball by Aramis Ramirez in the fifth inning that he awkwardly let land for a double. Santana, who was charged with eight runs, six of them earned, committed an error, too. He struck out three with eight hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings.

Santana, who missed the first 80 games of the season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, has allowed 12 earned runs in 9 2-3 innings in two starts at Target Field. In three road games, the right-hander has allowed two earned runs in 23 2-3 innings.

"I just trying not do to do anything different," he said.

Liriano (7-6) improved to 3-0 in his last six starts despite allowing 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings. He was charged with three runs, two earned, and struck out four in his fourth career appearance against the Twins, his team from 2005-12.

HOT-HITTING HICKS

Hicks is hitting .375 (24 for 64) with four doubles, two triples and three home runs in his last 19 games. "I'm just trying to get myself in positive counts and take advantage of it," he said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pittsburgh: RF Gregory Polanco was removed in the fourth inning due to discomfort in his left knee, with Jaff Decker replacing him.

Minnesota: CF Byron Buxton will take batting practice Thursday for the first time since he was placed on the DL with a sprained left thumb, but he is still several weeks away from returning.

UP NEXT

Minnesota stays home for a four-game series against Seattle, with Phil Hughes (9-6, 3.93 ERA) pitching Thursday for the Twins opposite J.A. Happ of the Mariners. The Twins have won five straight starts by Hughes at home, with the right-hander posting a 2.11 ERA in 34 innings with 32 hits and just one walk allowed.

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