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WSH@ATL: Maholm pitches 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball

If there was ever a pitcher who needed a confidence boost, it was Vance Worley before his last start on Friday. The Twins right-hander entered the contest with a sky-high 7.15 ERA over his first eight outings, serving up 66 hits in only 39 innings.

Despite taking a no-decision, Worley ended up turning in the performance he needed, limiting the Red Sox to one unearned run on six hits over six innings.

The 25-year-old will look to build off his best start of the year when he takes the mound on Wednesday as the Twins try to snap a seven-game losing streak in Atlanta against the Braves.

"That's how I pitch," Worley said of his last outing. "It's taken me a lot longer than I wanted to, but I'm glad we got this figured out mechanically. It's going to help me pitch the way I want to pitch, and it's going to help the team a lot."

Worley's manager was also impressed by his night vs. Boston, hoping it translates into future success.

"He was getting ground balls, mixing up his pitches pretty good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They weren't all clean innings, but he pitched out of them. So a better performance by him. We'll take that going forward."

Opposing Worley will be Paul Maholm, who has been up and down of late after beginning the season with 20 1/3 shutout innings. The left-hander allowed eight runs in 3 2/3 innings on April 26 against the Tigers, then bounced back over his next two starts, giving up a combined four runs, only to struggle again on May 11 vs. the Giants, surrendering six runs in 4 1/3 innings.

"I didn't make a few pitches and we didn't make a few plays," Maholm said after his start in San Francisco. "We weren't able to get anything on the board. They played better today."

His last time out, Maholm gave up four runs (two earned) in six innings to beat the Dodgers.

Braves: Walden poised to return next week
Currently on the 15-day disabled list, Jordan Walden is confident that his ailing right shoulder will be strong enough for him to rejoin Atlanta's injury-depleted bullpen at some point next week. Walden's confidence grew after he completed a couple of pain-free rounds of long toss on Tuesday afternoon at Turner Field.

"[My shoulder] is strong right now," Walden said. "I played catch today and it was better than it has been almost all season."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Walden will complete a bullpen session later this week and then make at least one Minor League rehab appearance before being activated.

When Walden returns, he could team with left-hander Luis Avilan and right-handed sidearm reliever Cory Gearrin to serve as closer Craig Kimbrel's top setup men.

Twins: Deduno gets starting nod for Friday
Twins prospect and Triple-A Rochester right-hander Samuel Deduno will start against the Tigers on Friday at Comerica Park.

Deduno likely would have made the club's rotation to start the season after starring for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, but he injured his groin in the title game and began the season on the DL. He returned to action on May 5 and posted a 2.70 ERA in three starts with Rochester with 17 strikeouts and 10 walks over 16 2/3 innings.

"He's been throwing good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We saw him for the World games and he got hurt but he's back out there striking people out. You're going to get a guy who puts some fear in people's hearts. He can wing it and snap off some stuff. I don't think he's afraid of going against those big boys in Detroit."

Worth noting
• Before this series, the Braves had never hosted the Twins.

• Including Tuesday, when the Braves scored twice in the first, the Twins have allowed their opponents to score the game's first run in 27 of 42 games. The Twins have given up a MLB-leading 49 runs in the first inning this year. Comments