Twins 7, Orioles 3

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BALTIMORE (AP)—The Minnesota Twins had just won their fifth straight game, and manager Ron Gardenhire was having difficulty deciding which one of several players deserved the most credit for the victory.

It’s a predicament he’s encountered several times this month, and he wouldn’t mind if it keeps happening all the way into October.

Corey Koskie homered and had a season-high four RBIs to back a strong pitching performance by Carlos Silva and the Minnesota bullpen in a 7-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.

Jacque Jones also homered and Torii Hunter had three hits for the first-place Twins, who maintained their half-game lead over Chicago in the AL Central.

“Somebody different is doing something every night. That’s how you win,” Gardenhire said. “That’s how you win your division, that’s how you stay in a pennant race. It’s not just one guy carrying you.”

It’s only July, yet the Twins are already checking out the scoreboard as they strive to win their third straight division crown.

“How can you not? It’s facing you. You’re always looking,” Gardenhire said. “We’re just trying to take care of our business. People tell you they don’t scoreboard watch. Sure they do.”

Silva (9-7) allowed three runs and nine hits in six-plus innings to earn his first win in a month. The right-hander, who took over the team lead in wins, was 0-3 with a 5.93 ERA in four starts since June 23.

The Twins led 5-1 before Silva faltered in the seventh. After Larry Bigbie drove in a run with a bases-loaded single, J.C. Romero struck out Brian Roberts and gave up a run-scoring groundout to David Newhan. Grant Balfour then struck out Melvin Mora with runners on second and third.

Balfour has retired all 17 of the first batters he’s faced this season.

“That’s the idea: Come in and get that first out in that situation,” Balfour said.

Koskie hit his 14th homer off Buddy Groom in the ninth after Hunter hit a leadoff single.

Roberts had three hits and Miguel Tejada picked up his 88th RBI with a first-inning single for the Orioles, who have lost two straight after winning four in a row.

Because its starting rotation was thrown out of whack by a day-night doubleheader in Boston on Thursday, Baltimore summoned John Maine (0-1) from Triple-A Ottawa to make his major league debut against the Twins. The right-hander got off to a decent start, but ended up yielding four runs, seven hits and three walks in 3 2-3 innings.

The three walks and the homer he gave up to Jones on a misplaced fastball irked Maine the most.

“To be consistently that bad with the fastball, that was the biggest disappointment,” he said.

Maine was sent back to Ottawa after the game, but he was thankful for the opportunity.

“It was awesome,” he said. “I’ll learn. It was a lesson, and I’ll get over it.”

After Maine retired the Twins in order in the first inning, Minnesota used three hits and a walk to go up 3-1 in the second. Koskie drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single and another scored on a wild pitch.

Maine avoided damage in the third after walking the first two batters, but didn’t make it out of the fourth inning. After Jones led off with his 16th homer, Maine was pulled with two outs after giving up three straight singles.

“I’m sure he was a little nervous out there. He couldn’t find the zone at all,” Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. “But it was good for him to see what the atmosphere was like.”

Minnesota made it 5-1 in the sixth when Koskie drew a leadoff walk from John Parrish, advanced to third on errant pickoff throws and scored on a single by Nick Punto.


The Orioles recalled OF Darnell McDonald from Ottawa to fill Maine’s spot on the roster. Earlier in the day, Baltimore put OF Luis Matos (bruised shin) on the 15-day disabled list. … Newhan went 1-for-4 and has hit safely in 31 of 33 games this season. … The Twins have won the first game in 18 of 32 series. … Twins 1B Doug Mientkiewicz went 0-for-4 with a walk in his return from the 15-day disabled list (wrist). … Bigbie is 6-for-12 with 11 RBIs with the bases loaded.

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