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LAA@MIN: Willingham goes yard to put Twins on board

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins were hoping a return home to Target Field could help them forget about their three-game sweep at the hands of the Orioles to start the season.

But it was just more of the same on Monday, as the offense struggled yet again, this time against left-hander C.J. Wilson, in a 5-1 loss to the Angels in front of a sellout crowd in the home opener at Target Field.

The loss dropped the Twins to 0-4 to tie the franchise mark for the worst start to the season, as Minnesota also started 0-4 in 1969 and '81.

"You don't ever want to start 0-4 and put yourself in a big hole, so it's frustrating," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We came out of Spring Training feeling good and playing good, and we haven't lived up to that. We need to win a ballgame. But it's not the end of the world right now. We can go on a five- or six-game winning streak and we're back above .500. The game can turn quickly."

The Twins maintain it's still way too early to start panicking and that they don't think they're headed for another disastrous season like last year, when they lost 99 games and finished with the worst record in the American League.

"It doesn't have that feel," reliever Glen Perkins said. "We've got our guys here and healthy. Where we were in August and September as a team was a pretty dark place. I don't think we're there this year. The guys in the lineup now were not in the lineups in August and September. It'll click."

The Twins are hoping it'll click soon, as the offense has been the weakest link so far, with just six runs scored through the first four games of the year.

Wilson was the latest to dominate the Twins, tossing seven strong innings and allowing just one run on a solo homer by Josh Willingham in the fourth. Wilson's biggest problem was his control, as he walked four batters but countered that by striking out five. He blamed the cold weather for his trouble finding the strike zone.

"I'm still trying to adjust," said Wilson, who was making his Angels debut. "It's not something I grew up with, so I don't really feel totally comfortable with it, which I guess is why my control was a little bit suspect today."

Despite an unimpressive line, right-hander Nick Blackburn was also solid for six-plus innings. He ended up allowing five runs on five hits and two walks, but the Twins were unable to turn two key double plays in the first and seventh innings.

The Twins had a chance to get out of first inning unscathed, as Albert Pujols hit a potential double-play grounder to third base, but Erick Aybar broke up the double play by sliding hard into Alexi Casilla at second.

The Angels made them pay, as Kendrys Morales and Torii Hunter provided back-to-back singles to bring home a run, before Bobby Abreu sliced a ground-rule double down the left-field line to score Morales.

Blackburn settled down after that frame, retiring 15 straight batters before Morales reached second on a pair of errors by Mauer and Casilla with two outs in the sixth.

Blackburn got out of that jam, but he ran into trouble in the seventh, walking Abreu before Alberto Callapso singled off a diving Jamey Carroll at shortstop on a potential double-play ball. Chris Iannetta plated both runners with a double to left-center, and he later scored on a suicide squeeze from Aybar against Perkins.

"I felt good today but I made a couple of mistakes, and unfortunately, I paid for it," Blackburn said. "For what it was, for the line, I thought it was a whole lot better than it turned out."

So for now, the Twins find themselves pressing and still looking for their first win of the season. Carroll, who walked twice but doesn't have a hit this year, said it's hard not to press because of the slow start and hopes Tuesday's off-day will do the Twins some good.

"You come out of spring and you want to do well, and when that doesn't happen, even if you tell yourself not to, it happens," Carroll said. "It's because you want to win. When things aren't going right, it's what everyone starts doing whether you want to or not. So hopefully with the off-day tomorrow we'll get away from everything a little bit and come back ready to roll." Comments