Twins 9, Orioles 0

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BALTIMORE (AP)—Staked with a 7-0 lead and feeling raindrops on the bill of his cap, Johan Santana became intent upon beating the weather—along with the Baltimore Orioles.

He succeeded at both.

Santana pitched seven innings of five-hit ball for his 10th straight victory, and Matt LeCroy homered in a seven-run second inning that provided the Minnesota Twins an early cushion in a 9-0 rout Wednesday night.

Santana (17-6) struck out nine and walked none before leaving with a 9-0 lead. He is unbeaten in 11 starts since July 11 and has a 1.38 ERA since the All-Star break.

The Orioles sold 19,358 tickets for the game, but because rain swept through the area during the day and continued into the early evening, only a few thousand fans were on hand to watch Santana turn in another masterful performance.

After the Twins took control in the second, the left-hander was virtually assured the win—barring a rainout.

“I was trying to work quick, because in the third inning I saw a little rain coming and I don’t want the game to stay like that and be gone, and not get a chance to win,” he said.

The shower quickly subsided, but Santana never let up. He did not allow a runner past second base and had at least one strikeout in the second through seventh innings.

“He has an excellent changeup, great fastball, good slider. That’s a pretty good combination,” Baltimore’s David Segui said. “That’s one of best lefties I’ve ever faced. His changeup—even if you sit on it and get it—the action on it is pretty impressive.”

Segui and Miguel Tejada both had two hits for the Orioles, who didn’t have a baserunner until the fifth inning.

“It’s not like I scalded the ball or anything,” Segui said.

Santana got more than enough offensive support from his teammates, who reached double figures in hits (12) for the first time in seven games. Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter had three hits apiece, and LeCroy drove in three runs for the Twins, headed to their third straight AL Central title.

“It was good to get the bats going again because we’ve been a little quiet lately,” LeCroy said. “We need to start scoring some runs down the stretch.”

The Twins sent 10 batters to the plate in the second inning, scoring six unearned runs following an error by third baseman Melvin Mora. After Henry Blanco hit a sacrifice fly, Mora dropped a liner off the bat of Shannon Stewart. Lew Ford followed with a sacrifice fly, Hunter hit an RBI single and Morneau doubled in two runs before LeCroy homered.

“We had a big inning, which we needed because we haven’t been scoring many runs,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That was kind of fun for us to get a lead and then hope that the rain didn’t bite us.”

Orioles starter Erik Bedard (6-10) threw 50 pitches in the inning and did not return.

“He has the stuff to put them away, but then you get to the point where it’s 20-25 pitches an inning. That’s kind of taxing on you,” Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Santana, in contrast, made quick work of the Orioles. He retired the first 12 batters, striking out five, before Tejada led off the fifth with a single to left. After Segui hit a one-out single, Jay Gibbons followed with a fly to center and Jose Leon struck out.

Santana’s changeup continually baffled the Orioles, who were blanked for the 11th time this season. Baltimore scored only five runs in dropping two of three to Minnesota.

“(Brad) Radke threw darn near as well yesterday, too,” Segui said. “They’ve got some good pitching over there.”

LeCroy and Mike Cuddyer hit RBI singles in the seventh against Aaron Rakers, making his major league debut.


Since June 9, Santana is 15-2 with a 1.49 ERA. … Bedard has one win in his last six starts. … J.D. Durbin made his major league debut for Minnesota, allowing one hit in the ninth.

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