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Braves remain winless in interleague play

    MINNEAPOLIS - Johan Santana was frustrated yet again by Minnesota's missing offense as well as his removal after seven strong innings. After the ninth inning, he was smiling.

    Mike Redmond's RBI single capped a three-run rally in the ninth inning against Atlanta closer Bob Wickman, ruining Tim Hudson's strong start and lifting the Twins to a 3-2 victory over the Braves on Thursday night.

    "We won the game, and that's all we were looking for," said Santana, who gave up Brian McCann's solo homer in the fifth, Matt Diaz's RBI double in the sixth, and left trailing 2-0.

    Atlanta lost for the ninth time in the last 12 games, but it sure wasn't Hudson's fault.

    "We've got to win. There's no more 'we'll get 'em tomorrow' things," McCann said. "It's almost the All-Star break, so we've got to start playing a little better."

    Hudson dominated for 7 1-3 innings, yielding only two hits and leaving Rafael Soriano to record the last two outs in the eighth when he felt a knot in the back of his shoulder.

    But Minnesota hit a bunch of bouncers to scrape together a wild rally in the ninth to hand Wickman (1-2) his third blown save this year.

    "Where they placed the ball was pretty special," Wickman said. "That's their ballclub."

    Luis Castillo stroked a single past third base for a leadoff single and advanced on Joe Mauer's groundout to shortstop. Michael Cuddyer drove him in with a triple that rolled all the way down the left-field line, and Justin Morneau reached on a chopper to first base.

    Torii Hunter hit a grounder to third base, and Yunel Escobar's throw home to get Cuddyer was high for an error that allowed the tying run to score. Then Redmond ripped a single to left to end it and complete the three-game sweep.

    His was the only clean hit of the inning, with the heart of the order batting no less.

    "Every once in a while you hit one on the barrel," Redmond said, grinning.

    This was the first time in 28 games this season Minnesota won when trailing after eight innings, but had Hudson _ who threw only 84 pitches _ stayed in the game the rally might not have happened.

    After allowed at least five runs in four of his last five starts, Hudson struck out two, walked one, and got 14 groundball outs thanks to an especially effective sinker.

    Unlike Santana, Hudson wasn't upset that manager Bobby Cox went to the bullpen even though neither the pitcher nor the manager suggested the injury was at all serious.

    "He was cautious, and the way our bullpen's been all year it was definitely the right move," Hudson said, adding: "It was progressively getting harder to get my arm up."

    Dennys Reyes (1-1) pitched the ninth for the victory that the Twins wished could have gone to Santana, who has received more than three runs in only four his 14 starts this season.

    After walking only once over the first two games of the series, the Braves drew three of them against Santana. But he struck out nine and gave up only five hits, and despite throwing 108 pitches he expressed disappointment with manager Ron Gardenhire for not letting him take the mound for the eighth.

    Of course the big zero on the scoreboard for Minnesota when he came out didn't make him happy, either.

    "That's the way it has been. There's nothing I can do. I just hope that my teammates will be able to score runs and put pressure on the opponent," Santana said.

    Hunter's double in the second was the only legitimate hit off Hudson.

    "Trust me, we were happy when he came out," Hunter said.

    Castillo chopped a ball into the dirt in front of home plate in the second for a single when shortstop Edgar Renteria had no throw.

    "That's the second time this year he's had no-hitter stuff and got the loss," McCann said. "Tonight was just what he does. He's a great pitcher."

Notes: Andruw Jones accidentally hit Twins catcher Joe Mauer in the left arm with an exaggerated backswing on a pop out to third base that soared so high it hit the ceiling. Mauer was bandaged up to stop the bleeding and stayed in the game. ... In yet another ode to the 1991 World Series between the two teams, one fan behind the plate held up a sign that said, "We love you Kirby" on one side, with "We want Leibrandt" on the other. Kirby Puckett ended Game 6 for Minnesota with an 11th-inning home run off Atlanta's Charlie Leibrandt.

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