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Minnesota Twins’ Kennys Vargas hits a three-run home run – his first in the major leagues – against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday in Minneapolis. USA Today Sports

Vargas homers in home debut to carry Twins

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MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota Twins first baseman Kennys Vargas sat at his locker following the game, and his cell phone was ringing off the hook. And for good reason.

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Vargas smashed his first career major league home run in the sixth inning, a three-run blast that was the offensive catalyst in the Twins’ 3-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday at Target Field.

Playing in only his fourth career game in the bigs and first in this park (not counting his appearance in the All-Star Futures Game last month), Vargas became the eighth Twins player to hit his first career home run in his home debut.

“Every new player wants their first home run to be like that,” Vargas said. “I just tried to make contact with the ball and, home run.”

Vargas said he went into the at-bat with a plan. He stood on deck and watched the approach of Padres starter Jesse Hahn against designated hitter Josh Willingham. Hahn got Willingham to swing over the top of a big curveball for strike three and the second out of the sixth inning.

“He went away, change-up, fastball, then curveball,” Vargas said.

Asked if he knew the same curveball that flummoxed Willingham was coming, Vargas nodded.

“I was looking for it. That was my plan, look off-speed and make good contact,” Vargas said.

Vargas did, driving Hahn’s bender over the outside part of the plate over the right-field wall. The blast made a winner of Twins right-hander Phil Hughes (11-8), who looked Tuesday more like the version of Hughes that went 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA in the month of May. Hughes had been the losing pitcher in each of his previous three outings, but was stellar over six innings, allowing only one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out nine.

“I was able to locate my pitches the best I have in quite a while,” Hughes said. “I felt like I was able to make some pitches. Except for the home run which I left over the plate, I was able to put the ball where I wanted to.”

The nine punch-outs for Hughes tied a season high, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire contemplated sending him back out for the seventh, but a broken finger nail ended his night. Hughes said he expects to be fine for his next start.

“He worked ahead,” Gardenhire said. “He was ahead in the count and kept pounding the strike zone. He did what we were hoping he’d do and got us to the second half of the game.”

SD ab r h bi MIN ab r h bi

Cabrera ss 4 0 2 0 Santana cf 4 0 0 0

Solarte lf 5 0 2 0 Dozier 2b 3 1 2 0

Smith rf 5 0 1 0 Plouffe 3b 2 1 0 0

Medica dh 4 0 0 0 Wllnghm dh 4 0 0 0

Gyorko 2b 4 0 1 0 Vargas 1b 4 1 1 3

Venable cf 4 0 2 0 Parml 1b 0 0 0 0

Grandal c 4 0 1 0 Arcia rf 2 0 0 0

Alonso 1b 4 1 3 1 Suzuki c 3 0 0 0

Nelson 3b 4 0 0 0 Escobar ss 3 0 1 0

Schafer lf 2 0 1 0

Totals 38 1 12 1 Totals 27 3 5 3

San Diego 000 010 000 — 1

Minnesota 000 003 00x — 3

LOB—Minnesota 5, San Diego 11. 2B—Alonso (17), Dozier (21), Venable (12). HR—Alonso (6), K.Vargas (1). SB—Schafer (1).

IP H R ER BB SO

San Diego

Hahn L, 7-3 5 X\c 4 3 3 4 3

Boyer 1 Z\c 1 0 0 0 1

Thayer 1 0 0 0 0 0

Minnesota

P.Hughes W, 11-8 6 7 1 1 1 9

Thielbar H, 7 1 2 0 0 0 1

Fien H, 20 1 1 0 0 0 1

Perkins S, 28 1 2 0 0 0 0

Inherited runners-scored—Boyer 1-0.

Umpires—Home, Mike DiMuro; First, Marvin Hudson; Second, Toby Basner; Third, Hunter Wendelstedt.

T—2:55. A—34,495 (42,035)

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