Orioles 4, Twins 2
BALTIMORE (AP)—First, Miguel Tejada tied the game with his bat. Then he clinched the victory with his legs.
Signed as a free agent to a $72 million, six-year contract in December, Tejada has proven to be a key addition to a team pressing to end a run of six straight losing seasons.
The 2002 AL MVP doubled in a run in the third inning and hit his 19th homer in the sixth to make it 2-2. The two RBIs upped his league-leading total to 90, but he wasn’t done.
With the Orioles up 3-2 in the eighth, Tejada was hit by a pitch. He then stole second, and continued home when the throw from catcher Matthew LeCroy sailed into center field.
Tejada got more of a thrill from that play than his game-tying homer.
“I think the run that I made, it felt better,” he said. “I know I did something that I shouldn’t be doing, but I made it and gave some insurance to the team and made the club feel better.”
It certainly put a smile on the face of Sidney Ponson, who won a second straight start for the first time this season. Ponson (5-12) gave up two runs, four hits and four walks in seven innings.
“It seems like right now things have turned around,” he said.
The same applies to the Orioles, who improved to 7-4 since the All-Star break and moved to within a half-game of third place in the AL East. A good portion of the credit goes to Tejada, who is hitting .405 with four homers and 15 RBIs in his last nine games.
“Since the All-Star break he’s really taken off,” Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli said.
The loss ended the Twins’ five-game winning streak, but Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire still got a kick out of seeing Tejada play.
“He reminds me of the old playgrounds. You go out there and the infield, he’s hooting and hollering and it’s kind of like going back to the days of the ‘Hey batter, batter, batter’ type thing,” Gardenhire said. “As an opposing manager, I love watching him play. I just love watching his enthusiasm.”
David Newhan drove in the tiebreaking run with a seventh-inning sacrifice fly, and the Orioles’ bullpen denied a potential comeback by recording six straight outs. B.J. Ryan struck out the side in the eighth and Jorge Julio worked the ninth for his 15th save in 17 chances.
That preserved a rare win for Ponson, who last won consecutive decisions in April.
“If I give my team a chance to win, they will score runs. It’s just a matter of when,” Ponson said.
With the score 2-all, Karim Garcia led off the seventh with a pinch-hit single off Joe Roa (2-2). Darnell McDonald then bunted, and Roa was given an error when his throw pulled shortstop Nick Punto off the bag at second.
After a sacrifice by Brian Roberts, Garcia scored on a close play at the plate on a fly to center by Newhan.
Tejada’s second-to-home jaunt made it 4-2 in the eighth. That run, like Baltimore’s tally in the seventh, was unearned.
Minnesota starter Terry Mulholland allowed two runs, four hits and two walks in six innings. The 41-year-old threw 90 pitches, 60 for strikes, in his fourth start of the season.
“Mulholland did a great job,” Gardenhire said. “Everything we asked of him, he did tonight.”
Although Mulholland did not factor in the decision, the Orioles improved to 12-21 in games in which the opposition starts a left-hander.
The Twins broke on top in the second when Torii Hunter reached on a fielder’s choice, took second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on a single by LeCroy.
Twins SS Cristian Guzman was scratched from the lineup and missed a fifth straight game with back spasms. … The team wore throwback uniforms of 1975, when Baltimore had bright orange jerseys and the Twins wore powder blue shirts and pants on the road. … Despite the win, the Orioles still have an AL-worst 21 victories at home.