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Interleague Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, June 8th (All times Eastern)

Chicago Cubs (19-38) at Minnesota Twins (22-34), 8:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Chicago - Travis Wood (0-2, 4.56) Minnesota - P.J. Walters (2-1, 3.69)

(Sports Network) - Journeyman right-hander P.J. Walters makes his second career start against the Chicago Cubs -- and first in an interleague setting -- when the Minnesota Twins host the visitors from the National League in the first of three games at Target Field.

An 11th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006, Walters made his major- league debut with a start at Wrigley Field in April 2009, but got a no- decision after allowing three runs on six hits in four innings with seven strikeouts in a game the Cubs ultimately won, 8-7.

Now 27, Walters made 18 more appearances with the Cardinals through July 2011, when he was part of an eight-player trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.

He made one scoreless relief outing with Toronto before being granted free agency and signing with the Twins in December.

He made six starts at Triple-A Rochester this spring and was 3-1 with a 2.70 earned run average before debuting with Minnesota with a six-inning stint against the Blue Jays on May 12.

Walters took a 2-1 loss in that outing but is 2-0 in four starts since, including a complete game win over the Chicago White Sox on May 22.

Overall, in 31 2/3 innings, he's allowed 13 runs on 30 hits with 13 walks and 21 strikeouts.

He's opposed by lefty Travis Wood, who's making his fifth try at a first victory with the Cubs.

Wood was 11-10 in 39 appearances with the Cincinnati Reds, who drafted him in the second round in 2005, before coming to the Cubs as part of the trade that sent reliever Sean Marshall to Cincinnati.

Wood has started four games and dropped two decisions while allowing an opposing batting average of just .176 on 15 hits in 23 2/3 innings.

He tossed seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball at San Francisco in his most recent outing on Sunday, but took a tough-luck loss in a 2-0 Giants victory.

Wood has never faced the Twins.

On Thursday in Milwaukee, Norichika Aoki's homer in the 10th inning lifted the Brewers to a 4-3 win over the Cubs in the finale of a three-game series. Aoki hit two home runs in the game.

Casey Coleman (0-1) was pegged with the loss after surrendering the homer to Aoki.

On Wednesday in Kansas City, Nick Blackburn returned from the disabled list to give the Twins five strong innings and Minnesota came from behind to beat the Royals, 4-2, and take the three-game series.

Blackburn (2-4) had not pitched since May 16 because of a strained left quad, but gave up only two runs on five hits and two walks over five innings.

"In the first inning, I was just over-thinking everything," Blackburn said. "Once I took my brain out of it, stop thinking about mechanics, I just went out there and took it one pitch at a time. I know that's a huge cliche, but I thought about what I needed to do here."

Minnesota relievers combined to pitch four scoreless innings, giving up only two hits without walking any batters.

Ben Revere had two hits and scored twice and Justin Morneau had two hits, including the go-ahead two-run single in the fifth.

The Cubs lead the interleague series, 11-10, but Minnesota has won five of the last six, including a three-game sweep at home in 2006 and two of three at Wrigley Field in 2009.

06/08 10:57:49 ET

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