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LAA@MIN: Diamond shuts out the Halos over six frames

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was exactly the kind of start that Scott Diamond envisioned when he heard the news last week that he'd be called up from Triple-A Rochester.

Diamond, making his first start with the Twins this year after posting a 2.60 ERA with Rochester, simply outperformed Angels ace Dan Haren to lead the Twins to a 5-0 win over the Angels on Tuesday at Target Field.

Diamond tossed seven scoreless innings to help Minnesota record its first shutout of the season, and became the first Twins pitcher to throw more than five scoreless innings this year.

"It was the best-case scenario," Diamond said with a smile. "It was a lot of fun. I think just the way we played that game was the best we can."

It was a much-needed win, as it snapped a three-game losing streak for the Twins, who have just three wins over their last 15 games.

The Twins also scored more than three runs for the first time since April 29, and held their opponent to under three runs for just the second time this season.

"I guess if you draw a baseball game up, that's how you do it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You score early, give your starter a little breathing room and then he takes it pretty much strike one all night long. He kept pounding the strike zone and moving it in and out. He was in command of the baseball game."

Diamond was on his game, as he allowed just four hits and walked one while striking out a career-high six batters.

He was helped out by a few of his former teammates in Rochester, as he was in tune with catcher Drew Butera and Brian Dozier made several nice plays at shortstop.

"It was the same as down there," Butera said. "He attacked the zone and worked off his fastball. He just pumped strikes and let them get themselves out. And when he puts them away, it's with his breaking ball."

Diamond got into a groove, as he retired the last 11 batters he faced to pick up his second career victory. He simply looked like a different pitcher than the one who posted a 5.08 ERA in seven starts with the Twins last season.

"We wanted to work in and attack hitters," Diamond said. "I think we stuck to that game plan all night long. It seemed to be pretty effective, so we kept working with it. I didn't mix in a ton of changeups, but I was able to keep them off-balance by working in and out."

Haren, meanwhile, struggled against the Twins, as he surrendered five runs on eight hits over just 3 2/3 innings. He chalked up his subpar outing to lower back stiffness, as it marked his shortest start since he went 2 2/3 innings on Sept. 7, 2005.

"I just couldn't really get loose all game and obviously wasn't myself out there," Haren said. "Couldn't really finish any of my pitches. I did my best to get loose in between innings, but just one of those nights when I just couldn't get it worked out."

The Twins got on the board early, scoring three runs in the first frame, as Josh Willingham provided an RBI double and Ryan Doumit crushed a two-run homer.

Minnesota added two more runs in the fourth, as Erik Komatsu and Brian Dozier each picked up the first RBIs of their careers. Komatsu brought home a run with a sacrifice fly before Dozier laced an RBI single.

After Diamond tossed his seven scoreless frames, Jared Burton and Matt Capps each threw a perfect inning to seal the victory.

"We needed a win bad," Willingham said. "We needed something to jump-start us. Hopefully that'll carry over into tomorrow. We need to pitch the ball well tomorrow. Scoring five runs is good, and you need to be able to win when you do that, and we were able to do that tonight."

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