Michael Pineda paces M's, sending Twins to 9th straight loss

SEATTLE -- Michael Pineda showed he has more than a fastball in the high 90s, an effective slider and a good grasp of the strike zone.

He also displayed composure beyond his years as the 22-year-old right-hander allowed three hits over seven innings to help the Seattle Mariners break a six-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.

Pineda (5-2), the American League's Rookie of the Month for April, struck out seven and walked none to send the Twins to their ninth straight loss, their longest streak since Sept. 9-19, 1998. They have not been 15 games below .500 since the end of the 2000 season when they were 69-93.

Pineda, lowering his ERA to 2.45, went to a three-ball count on just two of the 26 batters he faced.

Pineda, who threw 70 strikes in his 99 pitches, entered the game with the highest percentage of strikes thrown (70.3) among AL pitchers and highest percentage of first-pitch strikes (73.7). He had 18 first-pitch strikes.

Adam Kennedy and Carlos Peguero hit consecutive home runs in the sixth inning. It was first time Seattle had back-to-back homers since Aug. 16, 2010, when Russell Branyan and Jose Lopez connected at Baltimore.

Kennedy had two hits and two RBIs, the second of which drove in Brendan Ryan from third in the eighth inning with a sacrifice fly.

It was in the sixth inning when Pineda essentially earned this victory by squeezing out of a bases-loaded jam. With two outs and the Mariners up 2-0, the Twins caught a break when Luis Rodriguez's high throw brought Justin Smoak off the first-base bag and Trevor Plouffe reached. Kubel singled to center and Justin Morneau was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

"He had to battle through it there," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "They had the opportunity. He had to settle down and makes his pitches."

Pineda had briefly lost his form, but knew how to fix it.

"I threw a couple pitches and opened my left shoulder," he said. "I made an adjustment on the mound, closed my left shoulder and threw the ball down.

"When I get into trouble, I try to slow things down, stay calm and keep my pitches down."

Focusing on catcher Miguel Olivo's glove, he threw a hard slider, down and away, to Michael Cuddyer. He hit it hard, caroming off Pineda's thigh and right to second baseman Kennedy. He flipped to second for the force and the threat was denied.

"He's well-composed. He's a competitor," Wedge said. "He has a great feel for a young pitcher in regards to situations."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "I'd say his 94-96 mph fastball and filthy slider makes you jump at the ball a little bit. And he shut us down pretty hard."

Scott Baker (2-3) went six innings, allowing seven hits and four runs. He walked two and struck out eight.

Baker said the losing streak and the struggling offense "magnifies everything, but tonight that guy (Pineda) was pretty good. It had more to do with him throwing the ball well than our guys struggling."

The Twins scored their two runs in the ninth primarily because of Mariners miscues.

Kubel reached on an error by Kennedy. With one out, Cuddyer singled, sending Kubel to third. Delmon Young followed with a potential double-play grounder to third baseman Chone Figgins but his throw to second sailed into right field, scoring Kubel. Cuddyer then scored on Danny Valencia's groundout.

The Mariners jumped on Baker with a two-out run in the first. Figgins reached on a one-out infield single. Smoak struck out then Jack Cust bounced a double off the right-field wall to score Figgins.

They added a third-inning run in similar fashion. With Ichiro Suzuki on first with one out, Smoak lined a double into the right-field corner. Suzuki scored without a throw.

Game notes
Twins C Joe Mauer, who hasn't played since April 12 because of leg, knee and shoulder issues, finally will begin a rehab assignment Wednesday at Class-A Fort Myers. There is no timetable for his return. ... Morneau, bothered by neck and shoulder soreness, stayed behind in Minneapolis on Sunday to be examined. He flew to Seattle on Monday, arrived 1 1/2 hours before game time and was in the starting lineup. ... Mariners RHP Shawn Kelley, coming back from elbow tendon transplant surgery, has been sent out on his rehab assignment to Double-A Jackson. CF Franklin Gutierrez, on a rehab assignment, could be back with the team as early as next week. He has missed all season with irritable bowel syndrome. ... Smoak left the game for a pinch-runner in the eighth after he tweaked his right ankle.