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Dozier, Twins look to keep pounding Padres

MINNEAPOLIS — Brian Dozier has put up some big numbers for the Minnesota Twins this year.

Thanks to a solid night at the plate Tuesday against the San Diego Padres, the second baseman now has 30 home runs and 83 RBIs. He leads the Twins in both of those categories, but it is another category he leads Minnesota in that goes a bit unnoticed by some: games played.

He figures to appear in his 137th game of the year Wednesday when the Twins and Padres conclude a two-game series at Target Field. Minnesota put on a record-setting home run performance in a 16-0 win Tuesday. The Twins went deep in each of the first seven innings, the first team ever to accomplish the feat.

Dozier, who hit one of the homers Tuesday, is on pace to play at least 155 games for the fourth consecutive year, a symbol of just how durable — and productive — he has been.

“I think some people just kind of take those things for granted,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Dozier’s regular appearance in the lineup. “We talk every spring about our goal should be 150 to 155 games. If he plays a little bit more than that, it’s fine, but he’s got that mindset. He finds a way to get it done, even when he’s not maybe 100 percent — which most people aren’t at this time of the year.”

As Minnesota’s offense continues to roll, it helps that the regular position players have stayed healthy.

The hitters are giving Minnesota’s pitchers a bit more margin for error. Veteran right-hander Ervin Santana will hope that is the case again Wednesday as he starts in the series finale against San Diego.

Santana (15-7, 3.45 ERA) will be facing the Padres for just the sixth time in his career. He has yet to lose to San Diego, going 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA against the Padres.

On Aug. 2 at Petco Park, Santana threw a complete game in a 5-2 win. He gave up four hits and a walk while striking out nine.

San Diego will counter Santana with right-hander Dinelson Lamet, who will be facing Minnesota for the first time in his career. Lamet (7-7, 4.32 ERA) debuted with the Padres earlier this year and is winless in his last four outings despite making three quality starts in that span.

With Lamet on the mound, the Padres will try to forget what happened on Tuesday. San Diego ended up on the wrong side of history. No team had ever homered in the first six innings of a game, let alone the first seven innings.

Lamet hasn’t been very susceptible to the long ball lately, giving up just three homers over his past nine games.

In order to rebound from Tuesday’s blowout, the Padres will need to give Lamet some run support — something they haven’t done for him recently. In his past four starts, San Diego scored a total of three runs.

“I think over the last three or four months we haven’t seen losses like this,” said Padres manager Andy Green. “(Tuesday) was one of those anomaly games for us recently. I don’t think you make too much out of it.”

With the blowout win Tuesday, the Twins increased their lead over the Los Angeles to two games in the chase for the second American League wild card.

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