Jimenez, Orioles blank Twins

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- Early on, both the Baltimore Orioles and Minnesota Twins looked like teams that played long doubleheaders the day before. Especially their bats.

And while Minnesota's stayed quiet all night, Baltimore's woke up in the sixth inning and provided enough offense for starter Ubaldo Jimenez, as the Orioles took the first of a three-game series against the Twins with a 3-0 victory on Friday night at Target Field.

The loss was Minnesota's fourth straight. Baltimore has won three in a row.

The embattled Jimenez, who entered the game with an 0-4 record and a 6.59 ERA, looked like the Ubaldo of old, working 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball, striking out a season-high 10 batters and walking only one for his first win of the season.

The 10 punchouts were the most by a Baltimore starter this season.

"I was really happy, especially because I needed to be there for the team, given the circumstances," Jimenez said. "(The Orioles) got here at 6 a.m., the bullpen is pretty tired. ... I was able to do what I was supposed to do, get deep into the game and be there for the team."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, "That's what the doctor ordered. We were really riding his coat tails tonight. He was fantastic."

Jimenez, sent to the Twin Cities on Thursday, looked refreshed. Going on six days' rest, Showalter led Jimenez throw 118 pitches to help save the bullpen.

Jimenez said he had better command in his fastball and confidence in his mechanics.

"I could use my breaking ball in any count," Jimenez said. "(Orioles catcher Matt) Wieters was calling a great game. Every pitch he called, I was able to execute it. That was it."

Desperately in need of a strong -- and lengthy -- outing from a starter, the Twins' Ricky Nolasco was solid too, allowing two doubles and a run in the fourth inning before running into trouble to start the sixth.

A hard single off the wall by Orioles third baseman Manny Machado set up a towering home run into the third deck in left field by left fielder Nelson Cruz, his eighth homer of the season. Nolasco then gave up a single and a walk but worked out of the jam with two groundouts and a strikeout to end the inning.

"We needed him to go deep and he did that. He had good stuff tonight," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He did what we needed. Unfortunately, the other guy on the other side was really good."

Nolasco took the loss but had his best outing of the season, going the distance and allowing three runs (all earned), nine hits and a walk. He struck out six and fell to 2-3 but saw his ERA drop nearly a run from 6.67 to 5.82.

"I was just trying to go out there and give us some innings and a chance to win," Nolasco said. "We just came up short."

Cruz had the first double in the fourth inning and came around to score two batters later on a double by Wieters. Cruz went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs and is batting .297 this season. Wieters also had two hits and raised his average to .354.

Jimenez allowed a leadoff single to Twins second baseman Brian Dozier and a single to center fielder Sam Fuld to start the third and had four 1-2-3 innings. He gave way to Zach Britton after a one-out double in the eighth to Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar. Britton got a groundout from Dozier and struck out first baseman Joe Mauer to end the threat.

Orioles closer Tommy Hunter gave up a leadoff double to third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the ninth but retired the next three batters for his eighth save.

NOTES: Orioles RF Nick Markakis led off the game with a single, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Orioles C Matt Wieters singled in the second inning and doubled in the first and now has nine multi-hit games this season. ... Orioles RHP Ubaldo Jimenez's seven strikeouts through five innings established a season high. His previous high of six punchouts came in six innings in his first start of the season against the Boston Red Sox. ... Twins RHP Mike Pelfrey (strained left groin) complained of soreness after his start in the first game of a doubleheader on Thursday afternoon. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday. ... Twins CF Aaron Hicks was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list Friday. Hicks crashed into the wall on Thursday attempting to make a catch but stayed in the game for one inning before departing. ... Orioles RHP Brad Brach was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk and arrived at Target Field about three hours before first pitch. RHP Evan Meek was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room on the roster.

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