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High-strikeout pitchers featured in Twins-Giants game

SAN FRANCISCO -- Two high-strikeout pitchers are set to duel Saturday afternoon when the Minnesota Twins and San Francisco Giants continue their three-game interleague series.

The Twins got the jump on the Giants in the series opener Friday night, riding Ervin Santana's four-hit pitching and three-run double to a 4-0 victory.

The Giants had won five straight in the interleague series dating to 2011.

Remarkably, the Giants had never faced Santana, a veteran of 356 starts, before Friday. And the same holds true for the Twins' starter Saturday. Jose Berrios will be making just his third career interleague start, having lost to the New York Mets last season and beaten the Colorado Rockies earlier this year.

Berrios has been very impressive against mostly American League competition this season, going 4-1 with a 2.76 ERA in five starts.

The right-hander has been at his best on the road, where's he's gone 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA. Only five starters in all of baseball have a better road record this season, and only Houston Astros ace Dallas Keuchel (2.20) has a better ERA among those with a 3-0 or better road mark.

Berrios has struck out 31 in 32 2/3 innings, highlighted by an 11-strikeout performance in 7 2/3 innings in a 2-0 win over the Rockies in May.

The 23-year-old will be supported by a team that's gone 19-8 on the road this season. They've won five of eight on a 10-game Western swing that ends Sunday.

"The kind of game the manager likes," Twins skipper Paul Molitor gushed Friday night after making just one move -- inserting a defensive replacement in left field late in the game -- in the error-free, 2-hour, 27-minute affair. "Not a lot of decisions to make."

The Giants will counter with Jeff Samardzija, who enters the game on a remarkable strikeout run.

The veteran right-hander is coming off a 10-strikeout effort in a 7-2 win at Milwaukee. He didn't walk anybody in his 7 2/3 innings, giving him 59 strikeouts and just one walk since May 1.

The win was just Samardzija's second in 12 starts this season. But he will take the mound Saturday having gone 4-0 with a 3.67 ERA in his last five starts against the Twins.

He's 4-1 with a 5.21 ERA in six career starts against Minnesota.

The Giants have lost six of their last eight home games to fall to 13-15 at AT&T Park. They've lost 11 of their last 15 games against American League competition as well.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy was left shaking his head with the way his club lost Friday's series opener.

He had far less trouble accepting the team's seventh shutout of the season than he did Santana's bases-clearing double, which turned a one-run game into a 4-0 deficit in the fourth inning.

"The guy hasn't had a hit in, what, three years? He placed it just right. It was good break for them," Bochy lamented. "He's a great pitcher, but I know he's not a very good hitter and we got burned by an AL pitcher. They don't take BP (batting practice) or anything."

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