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Twins have season-high streak

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins had just won their fifth
straight game, and manager Ron Gardenhire was having difficulty
deciding which one of several players deserved the most credit for
the victory.

It's a predicament he's encountered several times this month,
and he wouldn't mind if it keeps happening all the way into
October.

Corey Koskie homered and had a season-high four RBI to back a
strong pitching performance by Carlos Silva and the Minnesota
bullpen in a 7-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday
night.

Jacque Jones also homered and Torii Hunter had three hits for
the first-place Twins, who maintained their half-game lead over
Chicago in the AL Central.

"Somebody different is doing something every night. That's how
you win," Gardenhire said. "That's how you win your division,
that's how you stay in a pennant race. It's not just one guy
carrying you."

It's only July, yet the Twins are already checking out the
scoreboard as they strive to win their third straight division
crown.

"How can you not? It's facing you. You're always looking,"
Gardenhire said. "We're just trying to take care of our business.
People tell you they don't scoreboard watch. Sure they do."

Silva (9-7) allowed three runs and nine hits in six-plus innings
to earn his first win in a month. The right-hander, who took over
the team lead in wins, was 0-3 with a 5.93 ERA in four starts since
June 23.

The Twins led 5-1 before Silva faltered in the seventh. After
Larry Bigbie drove in a run with a bases-loaded single, J.C. Romero
struck out Brian Roberts and gave up a run-scoring groundout to
David Newhan. Grant Balfour then struck out Melvin Mora with
runners on second and third.

Balfour has retired all 17 of the first batters he's faced this
season.

"That's the idea: Come in and get that first out in that
situation," Balfour said.

Koskie hit his 14th homer off Buddy Groom in the ninth after
Hunter hit a leadoff single.

Roberts had three hits and Miguel Tejada picked up his 88th RBI
with a first-inning single for the Orioles, who have lost two
straight after winning four in a row.

Because its starting rotation was thrown out of whack by a
day-night doubleheader in Boston on Thursday, Baltimore summoned
John Maine (0-1) from Triple-A Ottawa to make his major league
debut against the Twins. The right-hander got off to a decent
start, but ended up yielding four runs, seven hits and three walks
in 3 2-3 innings.

The three walks and the homer he gave up to Jones on a misplaced
fastball irked Maine the most.

"To be consistently that bad with the fastball, that was the
biggest disappointment," he said.

Maine was sent back to Ottawa after the game, but he was
thankful for the opportunity.

"It was awesome," he said. "I'll learn. It was a lesson, and
I'll get over it."

After Maine retired the Twins in order in the first inning,
Minnesota used three hits and a walk to go up 3-1 in the second.
Koskie drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single and another
scored on a wild pitch.

Maine avoided damage in the third after walking the first two
batters, but didn't make it out of the fourth inning. After Jones
led off with his 16th homer, Maine was pulled with two outs after
giving up three straight singles.

"I'm sure he was a little nervous out there. He couldn't find
the zone at all," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "But it was
good for him to see what the atmosphere was like."

Minnesota made it 5-1 in the sixth when Koskie drew a leadoff
walk from John Parrish, advanced to third on errant pickoff throws
and scored on a single by Nick Punto.

Game notes
The Orioles recalled OF Darnell McDonald from Ottawa to
fill Maine's spot on the roster. Earlier in the day, Baltimore put
OF Luis Matos (bruised shin) on the 15-day disabled list. ...
Newhan went 1-for-4 and has hit safely in 31 of 33 games this
season. ... The Twins have won the first game in 18 of 32 series.
... Twins 1B Doug Mientkiewicz went 0-for-4 with a walk in his
return from the 15-day disabled list (wrist). ... Bigbie is
6-for-12 with 11 RBI with the bases loaded.