Justin Morneau's two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth snapped a tie and gave the Minnesota Twins a 6-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night.
The Minnesota offense went quiet after scoring five runs in the first three innings, but awakened at just the right time.
The Twins (3-2) banged out five runs on five hits off Orioles' starter Chris Tillman in the first three innings. They got only three hits over the next five innings before finally threatening again in the ninth.
Aaron Hicks started the winning rally when he reached on first baseman Chris Davis' fielding error with one out. Hicks moved to second when Jim Johnson (0-1) walked Josh Willingham with two outs before Morneau (3-for-5, one RBI) singled up the middle and drove in Hicks.
"I think (Johnson) made a mistake over the plate," Morneau said. "I don't know if he was trying to come in there or not. It was a pretty good pitch to hit -- right over the plate. I tried to keep it simple and get a good swing on it and take my chances."
The run was unearned because of the Davis error. He didn't make any excuses afterward, saying he just didn't make the play.
"I went back and looked at it," Davis said. "My glove was down. My head was down, and the ball went right between my legs. It literally went right between my legs. It's just one of those things."
The first baseman had gotten off to a good start, banging out four homers with 16 RBI in his first four games. But the Davis' home run streak ended as he went 1-for-3 with a walk and one RBI.
He had homered in the first four games of the year and his last 11 regular-season contests.
Middle relief proved crucial for both teams in this game, which ended a five-game Minnesota losing streak in Baltimore dating back to 2011.
Josh Roenicke (1-0) got the win after giving Minnesota three innings of scoreless relief. Glen Perkins came on in the ninth for his first save.
The Baltimore bullpen shut down the Twins after their good start. Left-hander T.J. McFarland came on for the Orioles (3-2) in the fourth and, in his major league debut, struck out five and allowed just one hit in 3 1/3 innings.
"(He) was impressive, he was probably one of the big reasons we got back in the ballgame," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "When you're behind like that, somebody's got to go in there and pitch some multiple innings, something we were challenged with last year. He got in good rhythm."
Darren O'Day blanked the Twins in the eighth, but they pushed across the unearned run in the ninth, giving Johnson his first regular-season loss since July 27, 2012.
The Orioles took a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Manny Machado was on third with Nick Markakis at second when Adam Jones got a swinging bunt that rolled about 30 feet up the third-base line.
Pitcher Vance Worley threw errantly to first, which let Machado score. Markakis also scored the second run on the error. He finished the night 4-for-5, having scored in all five games this season.
The Twins quickly bounced back, scoring once in the second and taking the lead with a four-run third inning against Orioles' starter Chris Tillman. Ryan Doumit tied the game in the third with an RBI single and Trevor Plouffe followed with a sacrifice fly. Chris Parmelee then added the inning's big hit -- a two-run homer to right -- to give the Twins a 5-2 lead against Tillman.
The Orioles began to rally when Davis got his 17th RBI of the season in the third with a bloop single to left to make it 5-3. Jones came up with the bases loaded in the fifth and lined a two-run single that tied the game.
But the Twins didn't let the Orioles' rally deflate them.
"It was a good win for us," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "This whole division is tough and there are a lot of good baseball teams in it. We believe we can play with anybody."
NOTES: Davis came into this game with 16 RBIs -- more than 17 entire teams so far this season. He has actually doubled the RBI totals of the Marlins (eight), Padres (eight), Cubs (seven), Dodgers (seven) and Pirates (six). ... After activating Tillman to start the game, the Orioles optioned infielder Yamaico Navarro to Triple-A Norfolk. Navarro was recalled Friday after Brian Roberts was placed on the disabled list but didn't play. ... This is the first time the Twins have played in Baltimore since the opening series of 2012, where the Orioles swept all three games. ... Shortstop Pedro Florimon played in the Orioles' system for six years and was with Baltimore for four games in 2011. The Twins claimed him off waivers after that season.
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