MINNEAPOLIS -- Jesse Hahn fooled Kennys Vargas with a curveball in the first inning, so the Padres starter tried his luck again in the sixth.
"If I see someone can't hit it, then yeah, why not?" Hahn said.
But Hahn left the pitch high, and Vargas didn't miss his opportunity. Playing in his fourth Major League game, the 24-year-old Twins rookie lined his first career home run to the right field seats for a 3-1 Minnesota victory at Target Field on Tuesday night.
"I think it was the right pitch in that situation," Hahn said. "I just don't think it was executed. It was up in the zone."
The errant curve was Hahn's only big mistake of the night. It was also his first surrendered home run in 55 innings, a streak that was good for second best in the Majors. Hahn lost for the first time in five road starts.
Before that pitch, he had been protecting the Padres' 1-0 lead with a two-hit shutout.
"This is a game he'll remember," manager Bud Black said. "That one pitch really came back to haunt him."
San Diego jumped out to a one-run lead in the fifth, when Yonder Alonso smashed a Phil Hughes pitch into the second right-field deck. The hit -- which traveled 418 feet -- was the only time that the Padres were able to come through against Hughes, who tallied nine strikeouts with help from a nasty cut fastball.
"I felt pretty good," Hughes said. "I was able to locate my pitches, probably the best I have in quite a while. That always helps. I thought my stuff was pretty good outside of the one pitch where the ball came over the plate. For the most part, I was able to put the ball where I wanted to."
The lead could've been bigger if not for a great defensive play by Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki in the second inning.
Yasmani Grandal managed a two-out single, and then tried to come all the way home on an Alonso double that sailed over Oswaldo Arcia's head. But the relay throw was quick, and second baseman Brian Dozier snapped a throw to Suzuki, who was standing roughly eight feet in front of home plate.
"He was out in front of home plate," Grandal said. "So I thought maybe the throw might've been off line."
But Suzuki snagged the throw, dove back toward the plate and tagged Grandal for the third out.
"He definitely made a great play," Grandal said. "I was out. He tagged me. There's not really much you can say about it."
While the offense -- 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position -- couldn't capitalize on 12 total hits, the team leaned on Hahn for most of the game.
"It was a good outing overall," he said. "As a team, we played a great game. There was great defense behind me. I think if I would've executed that pitch that inning, it'd be a different ballgame."
Black said that Hahn didn't have his best stuff from the get-go, but was also very positive about the young pitcher's performance.
"He's done great work for a rookie pitcher that, coming into Spring Training, wasn't as high on the radar as other players," Black said. "So it's a tribute to Jesse that he's broken through when given the opportunity, grabbed it by the neck and has run with it. It's great to see."
Minnesota's All-Star closer Glen Perkins gave up two singles in the ninth to bring the winning run to the plate, but Yangervis Solarte and Tommy Medica popped out to end the game.
"We got double-digit hits," Black said. "We just couldn't punch them together and get a big one at the end or when we had a couple opportunities. They had one big swing, and that was the difference in the game. And that happens. A lot of times solo home runs don't beat you. It didn't tonight for Hughes. He made some pitches, we just couldn't put hits together to get more runs."
Hahn will just have to live with that sixth-inning curveball.
"That was just a bad pitch," he said. "I wish I had it back."
Alex M. Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.