Twins 7, Orioles 3

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BALTIMORE (AP)—Having gone hitless in two straight games and mired in a 1-for-17 funk against Baltimore this season, the last thing on Torii Hunter’s mind was a home run.

With two runners on, he would have been delighted with a bloop single.

“I was just trying to get a good pitch, something I can handle,” he said.

Hunter hit a three-run homer and Shannon Stewart had a solo shot in a five-run fourth inning that powered the Minnesota Twins past the Orioles 7-3 on Wednesday night.

Kyle Lohse (8-9) allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings for the Twins, who won the season series from the Orioles for the first time since 1995. Minnesota is 4-2 against Baltimore with one game left.

The Twins entered with only 13 homers in 19 games since the All-Star break, but the long ball provided the brunt of the damage against Pat Hentgen (4-5).

“We’ll take home runs. We’ll take them any way we can get them,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’re just trying to win some baseball games and get back in this thing.”

After Stewart led off the fourth with his 11th homer, singles by Luis Rivas, Doug Mientkiewicz and Corey Koskie put the Twins up 2-1.

One out later, Hunter hit a shot into the right-field seats. It was his 19th homer of the year, the first since July 24.

“I was looking for something away to try to get the guys over, to drive something. Double, single, whatever I can get,” Hunter said. “I wasn’t trying to hit a home run, trust me.

“It’s amazing. When you’re trying to hit a home run, that’s when you pop up and ground out. When you’re not trying to hit a home run, you can surprise yourself, and that’s what happened tonight.”

Hunter also singled in a two-run ninth for his first multihit game since July 25. But his homer was the game breaker.

“That three-run bomb was pretty much the ballgame right there,” Hentgen said. “I just didn’t make a good pitch to Hunter.”

Baltimore closed to 5-2 in the fifth and threatened to rally in the eighth.

After J.C. Romero hit Tony Batista with a pitch, pinch-hitter Jose Morban singled off LaTroy Hawkins. Deivi Cruz followed with an RBI single, putting runners at the corners with no outs.

Larry Bigbie looked at a third strike before Brook Fordyce hit a fly to deep center. Morban, evidently thinking there were two outs, ran home. Realizing his error after he crossed the plate, the rookie returned to third ahead of the throw.

But by failing to tag up on the fly ball, he cost the Orioles a run.

“The baserunning mistake really hurt,” Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said. “But those things happen with young kids.”

Hawkins walked Brian Roberts to load the bases for Luis Matos, who grounded into a force play.

Matthew LeCroy hit a two-run double in the ninth to seal the victory.

Lohse won his second straight start after losing five straight decisions. He struck out three and walked one.

The Orioles got a run in the second on a double by Batista, a single by Cruz and a sacrifice fly by Fordyce. Matos hit an RBI double in the fifth.

Hentgen pitched eight innings, allowing seven hits—five of them in the fourth. The right-hander won his previous three starts, but one bad inning prevented him from extending the streak.

“The big blow was the Torii Hunter home run,” Hargrove said. “Other thanthat, Pat was outstanding.”

Notes

Jack Cust made his debut with the Orioles, going 0-for-2 with a walk as the DH. Cust, recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Ottawa, didn’t play in his previous two stints with the Orioles this season. … Jacque Jones started in the outfield for the Twins after playing seven games at DH because of an injured groin. … Hentgen fell to 13-5 lifetime against Minnesota. … Baltimore’s Jay Gibbons extended his hitting streak to nine games, matching acareer high.

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