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O's boy: Twins' Central chase hits bump in road

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Unfortunately for the Minnesota Twins, the
Baltimore Orioles have embraced their role as spoilers.

Daniel Cabrera took a four-hitter into the seventh inning, Brian
Roberts homered and drove in three runs, and the Orioles blunted
Minnesota's charge to the playoffs with a 7-3 victory on Friday
night.

Torii Hunter scored twice for the Twins, who dropped 1½ games
behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central. In the wild-card
race, Minnesota remained 5½ games in front of Chicago, which lost
11-6 to Seattle.

"Not a good night, not a good loss for us," Twins manager Ron
Gardenhire said.

The Orioles are headed toward a ninth straight losing season,
but they aren't backing down against the contenders. Baltimore beat
Detroit on Thursday and followed that with a solid performance
against Minnesota.

"I think you can see the intensity level pick up a little bit
when you're playing teams that are in the race," Roberts said.
"It's not that you're not trying in Tampa or wherever, but the
motivation factor is a little bit more difficult down there. For us
to come out and play as well we have against contending teams, it's
great. We'll make them work for whatever they're going to get."

Nick Markakis had two RBI and Miguel Tejada had three hits for
the Orioles, who have won five of six. Tejada has a career-high 205
hits and is six short of matching Cal Ripken's club record, set in
1983.

Cabrera (8-10) allowed three runs and five hits in 6 2-3
innings, striking out eight and walking three. The right-hander
earned his first victory since Aug. 25 and improved to 5-1 with a
3.25 ERA lifetime against the Twins.

"We faced a tough pitcher out there. Cabrera is one of those
guys who has great stuff, just absolutely great stuff," Gardenhire
said. "We've seen when he's been really, really good and we've
seen him when he's misfired a little bit, probably like everybody
else. Tonight, he didn't misfire very much."

Cabrera has struggled with his control for much of the season,
so the Twins decided to work the count and force him to throw
strikes. Cabrera did just that.

"Our plan was to go out there and try to make him throw
pitches, but he was ahead of everybody," Hunter said. "He kind of
busted up our plan."

Minnesota cut a four-run deficit to 5-3 and had runners on
second and third in the seventh before rookie Brian Burres retired
Nick Punto on a grounder for the third out.

Roberts and Melvin Mora hit RBI-singles off Juan Rincon to make
it 7-3 in the eighth, dooming the Twins to a second straight loss
for only the second time in September.

"We had a shot, just tried to keep the game close," Hunter
said. "Then they scored two more runs."

Minnesota starter Carlos Silva (10-14) gave up five runs and 10
hits in 5 2-3 innings. He was 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in his previous
three starts, but he's 0-3 with a 8.47 ERA in three starts against
Baltimore this season.

After Minnesota's Luis Castillo was thrown out at the plate in
the first, singles by Roberts, Tejada and Jay Gibbons put Baltimore
up 1-0 in the bottom of the inning.

An RBI-single by Jason Bartlett tied it in the second, but the
Orioles scored three runs in their half. After Roberts hit a
two-run homer, Mora singled and scored on a double by Markakis.

Baltimore made it 5-1 in the sixth. Jeff Fiorentino hit a
leadoff double and Markakis ended Silva's night with a two-out
RBI-double.

The Twins chased Cabrera in the seventh, but were left wanting
more. Rondell White hit an RBI-single, and Cabrera struck out Jason
Tyner before walking Bartlett. Burres gave up a run-scoring single
to Castillo, and a double steal put the tying run at second. But
Punto couldn't deliver.

Game notes
Markakis snapped a 2-for-19 slump with his second-inning
double. ... Silva has allowed at least five earned runs in 14 of
his 29 starts. ... Roberts' three RBI tied a season high. He did
it once before.