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Vargas walk-off homer lifts Twins over Cardinals, 2-1

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    St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Jaime Garcia throws against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game on Thursday in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS » Two struggling hitters.

Two big blasts.

One big win.

The Twins looked destined for a crushing loss at Target Field on Thursday. They were stymied by Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia into the seventh inning. Mike Pelfrey seemed to be headed to be a tough-luck loser.

But Joe Mauer hit a game-tying homer in the eighth to put a charge into the crowd. Then Kennys Vargas drove Twins fans wild with a walk-off home run in the ninth for a 2-1 win over St. Louis.

Pelfrey sounded disgusted as he talked about his last start against Texas, one in which he was knocked out in the fourth inning.

“It was the worst stuff I ever had,” he said.

The quality of a pitcher’s stuff varies from start to start, which was the case on Thursday as Pelfrey dominated Cardinals hitters into the seventh inning.

Then he made one bad pitch.

A 3-1 fastball to Jason Heyward was pulverized into the seats in right-center. And it looked like that one pitch was going to cost Pelfrey and the Twins the game.

The Twins tried to rally in the seventh when Torii Hunter led off with a walk and Eddie Rosario beat out an infield hit — a play originally ruled an out before manager Paul Moliror challenged.

Eduardo Nunez bunted the runners to second and third, but St. Louis countered by walking Kurt Suzuki intentionally to get to Vargas.

Vargas, who snapped an 0-for-16 skid earlier in the game, bounced into an inning-ending double play.

But the Twins fans among the announced crowd of 34,648 — the Cardinals travel really well — came to life in the eighth.

Cardinals left-hander Kevin Siegrist entered the game and struck out Byron Buxton at the end of a nine-pitch at bat. Then he busted Brian Dozier inside for a second strikeout.

Mauer stepped to the plate with his batting average an unbelievable and unfathomable .250. But on a 3-2 pitch, Mauer blasted a 403-foot homer into the seats in left to tie the game.

The Cardinals threatened in the top of the ninth when Matt Carpenter led off with a double off of Blaine Boyer and moved to third on Jhonny Peralta’s ground out. Boyer struck out Reynolds with a slider then got Molina to fly out to end the inning.

With two outs in the ninth, Vargas got a 1-1 curveball from Carlos Villanueva and pulled it into the seats in right. He put his right finger in the as the Twins dugout emptied.

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