Minneapolis, MN – Tommy Hunter pitched into the eighth inning and allowed just one run as the Orioles downed the Twins, 2-1, in the third test of a four-game set Wednesday at Target Field.
Hunter (4-4), who was called up from Triple-A Norfolk to make the start, scattered six hits without walking a batter over 7 1/3 innings to earn his first victory in over a month in his longest outing of the season.
Adam Jones provided the offense with a two-run homer in the top of the first inning, while Jim Johnson worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to nail down his 27th save of the year and snap the O's three-game skid.
Francisco Liriano (3-9) was charged for both runs on four hits and three walks over six innings. He struck out 10 batters and has now fanned 25 hitters over his last 14 innings.
"You have to give him credit," said Twins catcher Drew Butera of Liriano. "He goes out there everyday and gives us a shot to win."
Josh Willingham accounted for the lone run with a homer in the fourth, but the Twins lost for the sixth time in their last eight games.
The Orioles jumped on Liriano early as J.J. Hardy stroked a one-out single and Jones followed with an upper-deck blast to left field to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Minnesota trimmed the lead in half in the fourth when Willingham launched a solo shot into the bullpen in left-center field, but Hunter was able to bear down as he retired the next eight batters he faced to maintain Baltimore's one-run edge.
"It's a refresher to everybody to get on and off the field and have some short innings," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "This time of year, these are the dog days (of summer). It's important to get on and off the field some and keep us from calling the bullpen."
Willingham singled to start the home seventh and Trevor Plouffe was hit by a pitch two batters later, but Hunter induced back-to-back flyouts from Brian Dozier and pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit to end the frame.
Plouffe then singled to lead off the ninth, but Johnson retired three straight as the Orioles escaped with the victory.
The Orioles designated pitcher Brad Bergesen for assignment to make room for Hunter...Plouffe extended his career-high hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the second inning...Willingham's homer in the fourth was the 500th RBI of his career...Twins manager Ron Gardenhire left the game with a stomach virus and went home.