Hunter Homers As Angels' Top Twins 5-4

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Torii Hunter gave Twins fans something to remember him by. In the final game of an emotional return to the Metrodome, Hunter homered leading off the seventh inning to back a strong start from Ervin Santana and help the Los Angeles Angels beat Minnesota 5-4 on Thursday.

Prior to his drive, Hunter had gone just 2-for-14 to start the season and admitted to being gassed from the ceremonies and warm welcomes he received from Twins fans who watched him star in center field for the previous nine years.

On get-away day, he had just enough left in him to muscle a fastball from Brian Bass into the seats in left-center field, and the small crowd at the Dome gave one last standing ovation to the fan favorite who signed a $90 million, five-year deal with the Angels in the offseason.

Mike Napoli and Gary Matthews Jr. also homered for Los Angeles. Hunter went 1-for-4 to finish the series 3-for-16.

Francisco Rodriguez got Michael Cuddyer swinging with runners on first and second to end the game and pick up his second save. The Angels took three of four from the Twins to open the season and got an encouraging start from Santana, who gave up just two runs and four hits with three strikeouts in six innings.

Joe Mauer had two doubles and two RBIs for the Twins, who lost starter Kevin Slowey (0-1) in the fourth inning with a strained right biceps.

Slowey, the 2007 Twins minor league player of the year, gave up three runs and four hits in 3 1-3 innings. The team said he will be evaluated further on Friday.

Jason Kubel homered in the seventh to cut the lead to 5-4, but that was it for Minnesota's struggling bats. Justin Morneau went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and is 0-for-13 this season.

It had to be a confidence builder for Santana (1-0), who is coming off a trying 2007 that featured him getting knocked out of his spot in the rotation. He also spent a month at Triple-A Salt Lake, and lost some momentum from a promising two-year start to his career.

After winning 24 games in his first two seasons, Santana went 7-14 with a 5.76 ERA last year.


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