Twins 5, Orioles 3
The Minnesota Twins finally have a winning streak to celebrate.
If all goes as planned, their modest two-game binge will ultimately provide the momentum to lift them from their unaccustomed role as cellar dwellers in the AL Central.
Francisco Liriano took a two-hitter into the seventh inning, and the Twins beat Baltimore 5-3 Monday night to extend the Orioles' losing streak to eight games.
Drew Butera had a career-high three RBIs for the Twins (6-10), who have won two in a row for the first time this season.
''Through the course of a season, you're going to have these little downs. It's how you respond back and how you play during those that makes the season,'' Butera said. ''You're going to have it; might as well get it out of the way. Hopefully, these two wins will get us on that roll that we need to go in the right direction.''
Playing in place of the injured Joe Mauer, who's on the 15-day disabled list with a leg injury, Butera hit a two-run double in the first inning and an RBI single in the ninth. He came in batting .133 with one RBI.
''It's tough to replace a guy like Joe Mauer. His bat and his presence in the lineup is definitely second to none,'' Butera said. ''It's tough to accomplish what he does offensively, so my job is not to lose anything defensively and to win. If we win, we'll be OK.''
Minnesota led 3-0 before Liriano yielded solo homers to Adam Jones and Matt Wieters in the seventh. Baltimore got two on with two outs later in the inning before Derrek Lee to hit a routine fly to center against former Oriole Jim Hoey.
The Twins made it 5-2 in the ninth off Kevin Gregg. After Butera singled in a run, Danny Valencia scored on a wild pitch.
Liriano (1-3) gave up two runs, five hits and five walks in 7 1-3 innings. The left-hander came in with a 9.42 ERA and had not pitched into the sixth inning of any of his previous three starts.
''A lot different,'' Liriano said of this outing. ''I got better control of my fastball today and I was throwing my changeup better than my last couple starts. Location is the most important thing for me, and I think I was locating my fastball better today.''
Liriano went 3-0 last April, and his effectiveness over the next few months could go a long way toward helping the Twins work their way up in the standings.
''We need Frankie,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ''He can be an ace for you, as he did last year for us. We need him to get on a roll and start throwing the ball well. Tonight's a really good builder for him. He can build on that.''
Matt Capps worked the ninth for his second save - the second in two games - despite allowing a pinch-hit solo homer to Luke Scott. Capps took the closer role from Joe Nathan, who blew two save opportunities last week at Tampa Bay.
Orioles starter Chris Tillman (0-2) permitted three runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. It was decent performance, but he got little offensive support.
''I was proud of the way Tillman pitched,'' manager Buck Showalter said. ''He gave us a chance to win.''
In his previous outing, a 7-4 loss to the Yankees, Tillman gave up six runs and nine hits in 1 2-3 innings. He was far better against the Twins - even if he didn't get a victory to show for it.
''It was OK. It wasn't good enough,'' the right-hander said. ''It's definitely a work in progress here. From the last start to this start, I've come a long way. I still have a lot of work to do.''
Baltimore got runners on second and third with two outs in the first before Mark Reynolds looked at a third strike with the count full.
Butera then put the Twins ahead for good, hitting a two-run double following singles by Michael Cuddyer and Valencia.
Minnesota made it 3-0 in the third. Delmon Young hit a leadoff single, took third on a double by Cuddyer and scored on a groundout by Valencia.
Gardenhire was ejected by home plate umpire Chris Guccione for arguing a called third strike on Jason Kubel in the eighth. It was Gardenhire's 53rd career ejection.
Kubel and teammate Jim Thome each struck out three times.
NOTES: After the game, the Twins optioned RHP Alex Burnett to Triple-A Rochester and recalled RHP Eric Hacker from the same club. ... Minnesota is 12-4 at Camden Yards since Sept. 22, 2006. ... The Orioles purchased the contract of LHP Clay Rapada, placed RHP Chris Jakubauskas (groin) on the 15-day DL and moved RHP Justin Duchscherer to the 60-day DL. Rapada pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings in his Baltimore debut. ... The Twins played without 1B Justin Morneau, who was experiencing flulike symptoms. Morneau is batting .208.