MLB

Twins-Orioles Preview

This has already been quite a homestand for the Baltimore Orioles.

Four games against the fading Minnesota Twins could make it even better.

Fresh off yet another walkoff victory, the Orioles seek their sixth win in seven games in the series opener Thursday night.

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Baltimore was eager to return home after losing five of nine on the West Coast and promptly continued its success at Camden Yards with a four-game sweep of Oakland. Two of those wins came on game-ending homers and Henry Urrutia delivered a third in Wednesday's 5-4 victory over the New York Mets.

It was the first career home run for Urrutia, recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday.

''This is the best moment of my career,'' Urrutia said. ''When I make good contact I was running for the base and in my mind I said, `I can't believe this.'''

Jonathan Schoop added a two-run shot and Adam Jones also went deep for the Orioles (62-57), winners of 10 of 13 at home since the All-Star break. They have homered at least once in all of those games, hitting 27 total.

Jones and Chris Davis have been at the forefront of the offensive surge.

Jones has batted .333 with six homers and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games, while Davis is hitting .342 with six home runs and 10 RBIs in 10 contests.

Also making a contribution is newcomer Gerardo Parra, who has a .444 average with three homers and eight runs during a six-game hitting streak.

Miguel Gonzalez (9-8, 4.42 ERA) seeks his first victory in five starts for Baltimore. Since winning at Tampa on July 25, the right-hander has gone 0-2 with a 6.64 ERA in four starts. The best outing of that span, however, came Saturday when he allowed three runs over seven innings against Oakland before leaving without a decision in a 4-3 victory.

Gonzalez went 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA in two starts against the Twins last season.

Minnesota was 10 games over .500 on July 17 but has since gone 9-21 to fall behind Baltimore, Texas and Tampa Bay in the battle for the second wild card.

The start of a 10-game trip hasn't provided any answers for the Twins (59-61), who were swept in three by the New York Yankees to drop two games under .500 for the first time since April 30.

"We have to move forward," manager Paul Molitor told MLB's official website after Wednesday's 4-3 loss. "It's a tough way to open a long road trip. But there's no room for self-pity. We have to dig a little deeper and then get ready for Baltimore."

Molitor's lineup will look a little different with center fielder Aaron Hicks out for an undetermined period after he strained his left hamstring running out a grounder Wednesday.

The Twins will call up top prospect Byron Buxton from Triple-A Rochester to take Hicks' place. Buxton batted .189 in 11 games with Minnesota in June.

Also missing for the Twins on Thursday will be All-Star closer Glen Perkins, who was given a cortisone shot for his ailing neck. The team is optimistic Perkins will be able to avoid the disabled list.

This will be the third start for Tyler Duffey (1-1, 6.75), who rebounded from a rough major league debut with an excellent performance.

Ten days after allowing six runs in two innings at Toronto, the right-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth against Cleveland on Saturday. He yielded only a one-out double in that inning, his final one in a 4-1 victory.

The Twins swept a three-game home series from the Orioles July 6-8.