Valbuena, Maldonado HRs not enough in loss

Valbuena, Maldonado HRs not enough in loss

MINNEAPOLIS -- Rookie Adalberto Mejia threw seven strong innings, backed by homers from Joe Mauer and Max Kepler, to lead the Twins to a 9-5 win over the Angels on Monday night at Target Field.

Mauer hit a two-run homer as part of a three-run second, while Kepler -- who had four hits and three RBIs -- added a solo shot in the fifth off Angels starter Alex Meyer, who allowed five runs over five innings against his former team. Meyer gave up six hits, walking four and striking out six.

The Twins hadn't had a starter go seven innings since June 21, but Mejia (4-3) helped save the bullpen with his outing. The lefty gave up three runs on nine hits and a walk, striking out five.

Mejia K's five in solid start

"[Mejia] stepped up," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Offensively, it was nice to see a lot of guys contribute. Joe's homer early was huge and we kept adding on, which was big for us at the end of the game. It was just a good night. We ran the bases aggressively, and we made some nice plays defensively."

Kepler's four-hit game

After being selected as an All-Star for the first time in his career on Sunday, Twins third baseman Miguel Sano collected three hits, including a two-run double in the sixth that made it 7-2. Luis Valbuena hit a leadoff homer in the seventh for the Angels, and Martin Maldonado had a two-run shot in the eighth, but the Twins scored a pair of runs in the eighth on an RBI single from Kepler and a wild pitch.

Sano's two-run double

Costly balk: With two outs and runners at first and third in the second, Meyer tried to pick off Byron Buxton at first base, after Buxton tried to steal on the previous pitch that was fouled off by Mauer. But Meyer was called for a balk, bringing home a run as he appeared to be rattled by the call. On the next pitch, Mauer crushed a two-run homer to give the Twins a 3-0 lead.

"That's just part of it, you have to be better at handling it than I was," Meyer said. "I was just confused. I honestly didn't know what I did. The umpire told me I was moving my leg, and I didn't think I was. It's obviously something I will have to look at and make an adjustment." More >

Meyer balks in a run

Mejia settles down: The Angels opened the fourth with three straight hits, including a two-run single from Andrelton Simmons, to cut their deficit to 4-2. But Mejia prevented further damage, getting Maldonado and Valbuena to fly out to center before striking out Danny Espinosa to end the inning.

"I was always calm," Mejia said. "I just tried to think about getting the batters out, and stayed calm." More >

Mejia fans Espinosa

Maldonado's nine home runs are the most by an Angels catcher prior to the All-Star break since Bengie Molina had nine in the first half of 2003.

Maldonado's two-run homer

After the game, the Twins activated infielder Ehire Adrianza from the 10-disabled list and optioned first baseman/designated hitter Kennys Vargas to Triple-A Rochester. Adrianza had been out since June 22 with a stomach ailment that caused him to lose 10 pounds. Vargas had been slumping recently, hitting .231/.271/.410 with seven homers in 44 games.

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier was scratched from the lineup with lower back tightness, and is day to day. Mauer replaced him atop the lineup, while Eduardo Escobar started at second.

Angels: Right-hander JC Ramirez (7-6, 4.60 ERA) is slated to start for the Halos on Tuesday at 11:10 a.m. PT. He faced the Twins on June 2, allowing three home runs across 4 1/3 innings. Last time out, the Dodgers tagged Ramirez with six runs (five earned) over 5 2/3 frames.

Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson (4-6, 6.11) starts for the Twins in the second game of the series on Tuesday at 1:10 p.m. CT on Independence Day. Gibson gave up five runs (three earned) over 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the Red Sox on Thursday.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Shane Jackson is a reporter for based in Minneapolis and covered the Angels on Monday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.