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Rookie Garza's third start a charm; Twins clip Orioles

BALTIMORE (AP) -- During the postgame television interview, Matt Garza was slapped in the face with a shaving cream pie.

But his teammates also made sure he got the game ball and the
lineup card, their way of saying thanks for a fine performance in
which he earned his first major league win.

Garza allowed one unearned run in six innings, Michael Cuddyer
had three hits and two RBI, and the Minnesota Twins defeated the
Baltimore Orioles 4-1 Wednesday night.

Torii Hunter homered for the Twins, who got 13 hits off
Baltimore starter Rodrigo Lopez. The victory, combined with
Chicago's 7-5 win over Detroit, kept Minnesota a half-game behind
the White Sox in the AL wild-card race.

Garza (1-2) came in with an 11.74 ERA after losing his first two
starts. The right-hander gave up five hits, had one strikeout and
one walk.

"Our young guy did a heck of a job," said Twins manager Ron
Gardenhire, who was ejected in the fifth inning. "He threw the
ball fantastic."

Garza, the 25th overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft, retired
the side in order only once but was aided by several fine defensive
plays.

In the second inning, shortstop Jason Bartlett dived in the hole
to start a force play at second base. In the fourth, after Hunter
made a leaping catch in center with Miguel Tejada on first, second
baseman Luis Castillo dived behind the bag to snare a grounder by
Jeff Conine to begin a force play.

Then, in the fifth, Cuddyer made a sprawling catch of a sinking
liner to right by Nick Markakis with two outs and a runner on
third.

Garza waited in the infield to give Cuddyer a high-five on his
way to the dugout.

"I threw my breaking ball for strikes and let the defense do
the work," Garza said. "It was a great feeling to have guys
behind you do what they do. They made six or seven great plays
tonight. It was awesome."

The next time, Garza won't have to worry about getting battered
with shaving cream or seeking that elusive first big league
victory.

"It takes the pressure off a little bit to get the first one
out of the way," he said.

Joe Nathan, the fourth Minnesota reliever, worked the ninth for
his 26th save.

Gardenhire was tossed from the game in the top of the fifth by
plate umpire Angel Hernandez with Jason Kubel at bat. The ejection
occurred while Gardenhire was in the dugout, and the manager
emerged to plead his case -- to no avail.

"Even though I wasn't around much to see it, it was a great
game for our ballclub," Gardenhire said.

Lopez (9-13) gave up four runs in six innings. He kept Minnesota
hitless in only one inning, and the 13 hits he yielded were a
season high.

"There were many ground balls and balls in the hole," Lopez
lamented. "But I battled to keep my team in the game."

Markakis drove in the lone run for the Orioles, who had won five
of six.

"They caught the ball. We hit a lot of good shots and they
caught it," said Melvin Mora, who went 0-for-4. "He threw good
enough to get people out, but he had a pretty good defense behind
him."

The Twins went up 2-0 in the first inning when Cuddyer hit a
two-out RBI double and scored on a single by Justin Morneau.

The Orioles scored an unearned run in the third when Markakis
hit an RBI single after Bartlett booted a potential double-play
grounder.

Hunter hit his 18th homer leading off the fourth. Joe Mauer
doubled and scored on a single by Cuddyer to make it 4-1 in the
fifth.

Game notes
After the game, the Twins activated OF Rondell White
(hamstring) from the 15-day disabled list and optioned OF Josh Rabe
to Triple-A Rochester. ... Recalled from Double-A Bowie earlier in
the day, Baltimore RHP James Hoey issued a walk and struck out
Kubel in his major league debut. The Orioles optioned RHP Chris
Britton to Bowie to make room for Hoey. ... Baltimore C Ramon Hernandez threw out two would-be base stealers and is 28-for-71
(.394) this season, second in the AL behind Ivan Rodriguez. ...
Garza lowered his ERA to 6.59. ... Twins rookie Pat Neshek, who
pitched a scoreless seventh, has allowed two earned runs in 22 1/3
innings (0.81 ERA).