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Blue Jays beat Twins for sweep

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins reached the 40-game mark, or baseball's proverbial quarter pole, Thursday afternoon, having shed their label as an early season surprise.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins reached the 40-game mark, or baseball's proverbial quarter pole, Thursday afternoon, having shed their label as an early season surprise.

One series against Toronto had spoiled weeks of good work.

This time, an 11-inning struggle at the Metrodome resulted in a 3-2 loss, giving the Blue Jays a three-game sweep that exposed flaws in the Twins, who had just taken three of four from the Boston Red Sox.

With his team at 20-20 and in second place behind the rapidly ascending Cleveland Indians, manager Ron Gardenhire sensed the danger of letting his young squad enter a prolonged backslide.

"You have to forget about this one and move on," he said.

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"We've got another tough one (tonight) in Colorado. We're in a stretch of 40 games in 41 days. It's not going to get any easier around here, so you have to keep your head up and learn from your mistakes."

Yes, keep your head up.

That's the fundamental Jason Kubel forgot in the seventh inning, when he ran through a stop sign from third base coach Scott Ullger.

Kubel was one of two Twins thrown out at home plate by several feet, the other being Brendan Harris in the fifth.

Both plays came with the score tied 2-2. In each case, if the runners had stayed at third, it would have been an opportunity for Michael Cuddyer, who is batting .333 with two outs and runners in scoring position this season.

Harris, who recently missed time because of a hamstring injury, acknowledged he might have been a step slow when he tried scoring from first base on Justin Morneau's double.

"He's supposed to score when it's hit off the wall like that," Ullger said. "He wasn't running that good. That's why I said after, 'Are you all right?' And he said he was fine."

Kubel, hobbled because of knee injuries in the past, is feeling good about his legs now. Perhaps too good on this play.

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Morneau dropped a bloop single into left field, and Kubel, on first after a two-out single, gambled that the ball would spin away from the Blue Jays fielders.

"I saw how the ball was bouncing around, and I looked at (Ullger), and he wasn't signaling anything -- not stop or go or anything," Kubel said. "So I just put my head down, and I figured it would bounce away from them."

After corralling the ball, shortstop Marco Scutaro threw out Kubel with ease.

"(Kubel) was trying," Gardenhire said. "He was humming around there, but in that situation, you've gotta pick up your coach."

The teams remained at a standstill until Blue Jays pinch hitter Joe Inglett singled off Jesse Crain, scoring Scott Rolen with two outs in the 11th.

The Twins' best chance came when left fielder Kevin Mench chased down a Carlos Gomez drive at the warning track with two outs and two aboard in the 10th.

Gardenhire was less bothered by this loss than the first two games of the series, 5-3 and 6-5 losses.

"It's not like we got blown out in any of those ballgames," Gardenhire said. "That (Mench play) could have been the game-winner. They made a great play. But the other two games we gave away. We missed plays. Those are the things that bother you."

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