BALTIMORE -- A .154 hitter drove in the go-ahead run, the slumping third baseman homered and scored twice, and the struggling closer sealed the victory with a solid inning of work.
Relying on an unlikely cast of stars, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Minnesota Twins 5-4 Thursday night for a two-game sweep."A lot of guys that have been scuffling a little bit came through," said manager Dave Trembley, who hadn't seen his team win two in a row since April 13-14 at Texas.Lou Montanez singled in the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning after taking a .154 batting average to the plate. The single scored Melvin Mora, who came in hitting .222 but homered in his first at-bat to end a 2-for-24 skid.Montanez's hit set the stage for George Sherrill, who got three outs for his fifth save in seven tries. After blowing two save opportunities in the span of a week, Sherrill was in danger of losing his job.But he was in control against the Twins. After getting two quick outs, he walked Joe Mauer before retiring Justin Morneau on a lazy fly to left."It felt real good," Sherrill said. "It was good to come out and show command. It felt really good coming out of my hand."A pregame session with pitching coach Rick Kranitz provided the left-hander with an improved delivery, and the results were evident."That's probably the best Sherrill has thrown this spring," Trembley said. "He got on top, had finish on his pitches, his velocity was up."Montanez, Mora and Sherrill weren't the only slumping Orioles to turn it around. Gregg Zaun, who came in batting .157, had three hits, and .200 hitter Ty Wigginton had a key single in the decisive eighth inning.Mauer and Delmon Young had three hits apiece for the Twins, who have lost three straight and five of six."We've missed opportunities and we haven't pitched well enough and we've been behind in too many games," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's why we're where we are."Minnesota went 1-3 on a brief trip through Detroit and Baltimore."I know it's just been four games, but it feels like it's been two weeks," outfielder Michael Cuddyer said. "Three [losses] in a row. We didn't want that to happen. We didn't expect it to happen. But it did. We go home now and we have to play better."With the score 4-all in the eighth, Mora hit a one-out single off Jose Mijares (0-1). Wigginton singled with two outs before Montanez lined a single to left.Jim Johnson (2-0) worked the top of the inning and Sherrill sealed the win.Orioles rookie Brad Bergesen gave up three runs and 11 hits over six innings in his fourth big league start. The right-hander was pulled with Baltimore up 4-3, but the bullpen promptly gave up the lead.Chris Ray entered in the seventh and gave up a single to Denard Span, who scored on a single by Mauer.Twins starter Glen Perkins yielded four runs and five hits in six innings.Minnesota went up 1-0 in the second when Joe Crede doubled and scored on a single by Cuddyer. In the bottom half, Mora homered and Cesar Izturis delivered an RBI single.The Twins loaded the bases with no outs in the third before Adam Jones made a fine diving catch on a liner to center by Morneau. The sacrifice fly tied the game, but Bergesen averted further damage.Aubrey Huff hit a two-out, two-run drive to right in the bottom half to make it 4-2.Bergesen gave up two straight singles to open the sixth, then got Cuddyer to hit into a double play. Young followed with a bloop single to get Minnesota to 4-3.
Zaun has three multihit games in his last six starts, but is batting only .192. ... The Twins hit into two double plays and have eight GIDPs in their last five games. ... Baltimore clinched its first home series win over Minnesota in four years. ... Mauer is 38-for-98 (.388) lifetime against the Orioles.