Twins 7, Orioles 5, 12 innings
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—With two powerful swings, Justin Morneau led Minnesota to victory and pulled himself out of a slump.
“I don’t think I could hit it much better than that,” Morneau said. “That was a pretty good feeling, especially after the roadtrip I had.”
Morneau also hit a three-run homer, giving him five RBIs for the game. He was 8-for-35 on the recent 10-game trip, with just one homer and two RBIs.
“It was nice to come home where you feel comfortable,” Morneau said. “And, the celebration at the plate was fun.”
“It’s good for him to come and pick us up like that,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.”
“Obviously that was right in his wheelhouse and he didnt miss it,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said.
Joe Nathan (4-0) pitched two innings for the victory.
Joe Mauer, who leads the majors with a .384 average, was 3-for-5 and now has 12 hits in his last 17 at-bats.
Baltimore had a great chance to take the lead in the 12th when Javy Lopez was on third with one out, but he was thrown out at the plate on a close play trying to score on Jeff Conine’s chopper to third-baseman Terry Tiffee.
“I thought I would be safe easy,” Lopez said. “It was a bang-bang play and an out and it’s frustrating.”
Trailing 5-3 in the eighth, Minnesota scored twice against Baltimore relievers to tie the game. Kurt Birkins walked Mauer and was immediately relieved by former Twins pitcher LaTroy Hawkins. Hawkins got Torii Hunter to ground out before walking Michael Cuddyer. Jason Kubel followed with an RBI single and, with two outs, Tiffee drove in the tying run with a chopper up the middle.
The Twins had a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning before Baltimore took advantage of two walks and an error to score four runs. With two on and two outs, Brad Radke walked Lopez and Patterson to make it 3-2. Conine followed with a grounder off Tiffee’s glove, allowing the tying run to score. Fahey then drove in two runs with a single off Radke to make it 5-3.
Ramon Hernandez hit a leadoff double in the second just over the head of center-fielder Hunter, who was frozen by the line drive and couldn’t recover in time to make the play. One out later, Patterson hit another double off Radke to make it 1-0.
The Twins came back in the fourth, with four straight hits off Rodrigo Lopez to start the inning, including Morneau’s three-run homer, a 420-foot line drive to dead center that made it 3-1.
“I think we made all the right moves, but things didnt turn out at the end,” Rodrigo Lopez said. “That is a team that will never give up.”
Cuddyer started the rally with a double and Kubel singled before Morneau’s 12th home run of the season.
“Him, strong like bull,” Torii Hunter said of his teammate. “We need that out of him.”
Mauer has hit safely in 17-of-18 games and 26 of the last 28. He has four straight mulit-hit games. … Rodrigo Lopez allowed three runs in seven strong innings, but failed to win his fourth straight start when the Twins rallied late. … Melvin Mora strained his right shoulder and was replaced at third base for the bottom of the seventh inning. “I haven’t talked since he went out,” Perlozzo said. “He said he tweaked it before the game warming up and after the inning he said it was getting worse.”