One of the best bullpens in the majors is coming apart at the wrong time for the Baltimore Orioles.
The Minnesota Twins have taken advantage, and they'll look to take the first three of this crucial four-game set Saturday night at Camden Yards.
Baltimore's relievers entered this series with a 2.68 ERA that ranked second in the AL and fourth in baseball, but it surrendered a season-worst eight runs in four innings of Thursday's 15-2 loss to the Twins.
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Gerardo Parra hit a three-run homer and Wei-Yin Chen pitched six solid innings Friday before All-Star reliever Darren O'Day allowed three runs and four hits in two-thirds of an inning in the eighth as Minnesota rallied for a 4-3 victory.
O'Day hadn't allowed a run in his previous 11 appearances, and the Orioles (62-59) had won 51 of their previous 52 when leading after seven. Texas beat Detroit to pull even with Baltimore behind the Los Angeles Angels for the AL's second wild card.
"The baseball gods aren't always kind to you," manager Buck Showalter said. "You wear it and try to come back and know tomorrow you have a chance to have a different feeling."
Chris Tillman (9-7, 4.54 ERA) hopes to keep the bullpen's work to a minimum in this contest. Tillman has come on strong since June 28, going 4-0 with a 2.13 ERA while giving up two runs or fewer seven times in eight starts.
He bounced back from a rough outing against Seattle on Aug. 11 - his first start after skipping his turn in the rotation because of a sore left ankle - and allowed a pair of solo homers through seven innings of Monday's 4-2 win over Oakland.
"I feel like right now as long as our starters are giving the team a chance to win and get deep into the game, set up the bullpen how it needs to be set up, I think we will be ready," Tillman said after his last outing.
The right-hander, though, is 0-3 with a 5.06 ERA in five career starts against the Twins and has lasted a combined 9 1-3 innings over the last three. He'll try to prevent Minnesota from winning three straight for the first time since a four-game run July 10-17.
Kurt Suzuki's two-run single put the Twins ahead for good Friday, and he's driven in seven while batting .429 during a five-game hitting streak. He's 8 for 17 in four games against the Orioles, who have dropped all five meetings this season.
The Twins (61-61) are 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles and Rangers in the wild-card race.
"It's a big victory because we're playing a team that's pretty good and they're ahead of us right now, and we're trying to get in that wild card," outfielder Torii Hunter said.
The Twins look to keep rolling behind Kyle Gibson (8-9, 3.99), who has continued to struggle since the All-Star break.
Gibson had a 2.85 ERA while allowing at least five earned runs twice through his first 18 starts, including an 8-3 win over Baltimore on July 7 when he struck out seven in six innings. He's gone 0-3 with a 7.91 ERA in his last six, though.
The right-hander allowed at least six runs for the fourth time in that stretch in Baltimore's 8-7, 10-inning loss to the New York Yankees.
Minnesota is seeking a third straight road victory for the time since a season-best four-game run April 25-May 9.