Orioles 5, Twins 3

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BALTIMORE (AP)—The knock on Jack Cust this spring was that he was too selective at the plate.

With his first-pitch home run Thursday, Cust showed that he’s willing to swing early in the count. Unfortunately, he jumped on a Rick Reed fastball so quickly that his father didn’t see it.

Cust’s first AL homer, a three-run shot, carried the Baltimore Orioles past the Minnesota Twins 5-3.

Baltimore trailed 3-1 before rallying with a four-run fourth. Jeff Conine and Tony Batista singled before Cust hit the first pitch from Reed over the 25-foot scoreboard in right field.

“It just takes a lot of the pressure off me,” he said. “I was getting kind of frustrated. I was relaxed in Triple-A, but I didn’t feel like that at all here.”

Obtained from Colorado in March, Cust failed to play during two brief stints with Baltimore before being called up from Triple-A Ottawa for a third time Tuesday.

Cust’s father made the trip down from New Jersey during his son’s previous two stints, and went home disappointed. This time he was rewarded with a home run—even though he was in the Camden Yards elevator when Cust connected.

He arrived in time to see his son rounding third base. It was Cust’s second big league homer, the first coming last August with the Rockies.

“It was great. I saw the last one on TV, but it was nothing like this,” Cust’s father, Jack, said. “I got all choked up. It’s just amazing.”

Especially because it came with the count 0-0.

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said he remembered only a handful of times in March when Cust swung at the first pitch.

“Since he’s been here, I haven’t seen him be as selective at the plate as spring training,” Hargrove said. “In spring training, it seemed like he waited for that one pitch and got himself into bad counts.”

Not anymore.

“I’ve been a lot more aggressive,” Cust said. “Today I was just looking for a fastball to drive.”

Cust’s first AL hit put the Orioles up 4-3. Deivi Cruz then doubled and scored on a single by Larry Bigbie.

Rodrigo Lopez (5-6) allowed three runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings for the Orioles, who salvaged a split of the four-game series.

B.J. Ryan got four outs, three of them strikeouts, and Jorge Julio worked the ninth for his career-high 27th save.

Torii Hunter homered for the Twins, who were denied their bid to move two games over .500 for the first time since July 5.

Minnesota won the season series from Baltimore (4-3) for the first time since 1995, but that wasn’t good enough for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

“We’re never happy,” he said. “We took a lead and were trying to get out of here with three out of four against a good baseball team. Our history is that we don’t play very well over here, so you could say ‘That’s great, we got two out of four.’ But we’re not in that position right now. We’re trying to catch some people and we needed a win today.”

Reed (5-11) allowed eight hits in his second complete game of the year, the 14th of his career. His only miscue came against Cust in the fourth.

“Right now, I can’t make a mistake. If I make a mistake it not only hurts me, but hurts the ball club,” Reed said. “I better go out there right now and be perfect.”

Baltimore got a run in the first when Conine doubled and scored on a single by Jay Gibbons.

The Twins went up 2-1 in the second when Hunter hit his second homer in two games after Corey Koskie led off with a single. Minnesota made it 3-1 in the third on a double by Shannon Stewart and an RBI single by Luis Rivas.

But Lopez allowed only two hits after that.

Notes

Gibbons extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. … Twins OF Jacque Jones left in the fourth inning as a precaution. Jones is returning from a groin injury, and the field was slick from rain. … Conine’s first-inning double was his 1,500th career hit. … Rivas was thrown outattempting to steal in the first and third innings.

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