MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The San Diego Padres started small and had a big finish.
Somewhere in there, they found a spark.
The Padres used three Minnesota errors and savvy baserunning by Ha-Seong Kim and Fernando Tatis Jr. to score twice in the seventh inning on Tuesday, before Manny Machado broke the game open with a three-run homer in the ninth to beat the Twins 6-1 and give Michael Wacha his first win in five starts.
Juan Soto had a season-high four hits — the most he’s had for San Diego — with two doubles and a walk for the Padres, who are 18-3 in games when they get three runs or more.
“Just putting it all together. If we can do that we’re going to be the best team in baseball,” said Machado, who hit his fifth homer and made two hard-charging barehand scoops at third base to get groundball outs.
Wacha (3-1) gave up just three hits and one run in six innings, before the Padres put together their strange tiebreaking seventh.
Austin Nola’s sacrifice squeeze bunt scored Kim with the go-ahead run against Twins reliever Griffin Jax (1-4). Kim reached on an error by first baseman Alex Kirilloff, who fielded the soft grounder and threw high and wide to Jax at the bag, and later stole third.
With two outs, Tatis stole second and took third on a wild throw by catcher Christian Vázquez. Then after Jake Cronenworth walked, Vázquez tried to throw behind Tatis and catch him off guard on his retreat to the base. The ball hit Tatis in the back, bounced into left field for the third error of the inning and allowed him to trot home.
“I was trying to deke him, trying to make it look like I was not paying attention,” Tatis said.
The Padres (19-17) trail Los Angeles by 2½ games in the National League West.
“When we play small ball … that’s going to carry us for the rest of the season,” Tatis said.
The Padres with their superstar lineup haven’t been hitting much, taking a .233 team batting average into the game that ranked 23rd in Major League Baseball, but Soto did his part to get them going. The two-time All-Star left fielder doubled in the fourth inning off Twins starter Louie Varland and scored on Matt Carpenter’s two-out single. Varland had six strikeouts in six innings with one run allowed.
“We wish we could go 4 for 4 every single day and hit a homer every single day,” Machado said. “Baseball doesn’t work that way. The other guy’s got to eat, too.”
EVEN BIGGER SLUMP
The Twins (19-17), who lead the American League Central by two games over Cleveland, have scored six runs in their last four games. They had 28 hits in 58 innings on a 2-4 road trip last week to drop to last in MLB in batting average at .220. Cleveland’s Cal Quantrill held them to one hit in the 2-0 loss Sunday.
The Twins started the fourth with back-to-back walks. Jose Miranda, who went 2 for 21 on the road trip, drove in one run with a one-out double down the left-field line. But Wacha got the next two outs to strand runners at second and third.
Joey Gallo’s hitless streak reached 25 straight at-bats until he singled in the seventh, when the Twins had runners at the corners with one out. Steven Wilson entered to strike out Max Kepler and Carlos Correa to prompt boos from the crowd of 16,882 at Target Field.
“I’d boo myself too, with the amount of money I’m making if I’m playing like that,” Correa said.
Padres designated hitter Nelson Cruz caught up before the game with several friends he made during 2½ seasons with the Twins, who traded him shortly before the 2021 deadline to Tampa Bay for Joe Ryan. Cruz posed for a pregame photo with Ryan, who’s now a fixture atop Minnesota’s rotation.
“I’m glad to see him having success,” Cruz said. “If you’re going to get traded you might as well get traded for a good player.”
Padres: RHP Seth Lugo (3-2, 3.21) pitches on Wednesday.
Twins: RHP Pablo López (2-2, 3.77 ERA) takes the mound for the middle game of the series.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.