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Carl Pavano, Twins Go For Sweep Of Mariners On Sunday

(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Twins will attempt to complete a three-game road sweep of the lowly Seattle Mariners today at Safeco Field.

Carl Pavano, one of the majors' most surprising performers in 2010, will take the ball for Minnesota today. On Tuesday, Pavano struggled against Texas, allowing four earned runs on eight hits in eight innings en route to defeat. He has now lost back-to-back starts for the first time since May. The veteran righty is 15-9 this season with a 3.56 ERA and six complete games.

Over the last decade, Pavano has only thrown a total of 20 innings against Seattle and owns a 1-1 mark against Mariners during that time with a 4.05 ERA.

Luke French, who is set to get the ball for Seattle today, is a young left- hander who continues to search for some consistency. French is 2-4 this season with a 4.57 ERA, and he has only 18 strikeouts with 16 walks in 45 1/3 innings. Last Sunday, he allowed five runs on five hits and five walks in five innings of a loss to the Yankees.

French is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in his brief career against the Twins.

On Saturday, Nick Blackburn hurled 8 2/3 scoreless innings and Denard Span drove in the lone run as Minnesota clipped Seattle, 1-0.

Blackburn (8-8) yielded two hits to win for the first time since June 29, and failed to allow a run in a start for the first time since May 9 against Baltimore.

He retired 21 batters in succession from the second through the ninth and finished with a season-high six strikeouts. Brian Fuentes made his Twins debut a successful one, a four-pitch strikeout to notch his 24th save.

"That was good. Joe (Mauer) and I had these guys off balance. They just weren't putting good swings on the ball," Blackburn said of his start. "I was getting away with pitches down the middle and they just were looking for something else, so they were beating it into the ground."

Delmon Young added two hits and Danny Valencia scored for the Twins, who have won three in a row and extended their lead over Chicago in the AL Central to 4 1/2 games after the White Sox lost to the Yankees later Saturday.

Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson left the game in the second inning with a right ankle sprain, and Minnesota DH Jim Thome later exited with back stiffness.

Russell Branyan and Jose Lopez collected the lone hits for the Mariners, who suffered their sixth loss in seven.

Doug Fister (4-10) was the hard-luck loser as he scattered six hits and one run over seven innings, fanning six with two walks.

Minnesota has won six of its nine meetings with the Mariners this season.