Twins rally past Orioles on Suzuki's bloop

Twins rally past Orioles on Suzuki's bloop

BALTIMORE -- After falling behind by two in the sixth inning, the Twins rallied for three runs in the eighth off All-Star reliever Darren O'Day for a 4-3 victory on Friday night, winning their fifth consecutive game over the Orioles this season.

Miguel Sano -- who collected a pair of hits -- began the eighth with a walk and scored on an Eddie Rosario sacrifice fly three batters later. With the Baltimore infielders playing on the grass to prevent the game-tying run, Kurt Suzuki's bloop single landed in shallow right field to score two as the Twins jumped to a 4-3 lead. Minnesota starter Tommy Milone lasted 5 1/3 innings, and the Twins used three pitchers the rest of the way, with Casey Fien picking up his third win.

After giving up one hit in the first, Milone kept the Orioles hitless for 13 consecutive batters until Nolan Reimold and Manny Machado led off the sixth inning with back-to-back singles. Gerardo Parra drove the first pitch he saw over the right-field scoreboard to give Baltimore the lead. O'Day suffered just his second loss of the season as the Twins won consecutive road games for the first time since June 3-4 in Boston.

"It was a good win, it was a fun win," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We got a little lucky there in that rally. It wasn't a particularly good night for us with men in scoring position. We hung in there. The rally was a little bit ugly. We got a couple of bloops and a hit batsman with some good baserunning. Then, to have those guys come in there and pitch the way they did with really solid and clean eighth and ninth innings against some tough hitters."

Both clubs are in contention in the American League Wild Card race. Following the Angels' loss to Toronto on Friday night, the Orioles remained a half-game behind the Halos for the second spot, and the Twins are two games back.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Jepsen, the closer: With Glen Perkins sidelined with a neck injury, Kevin Jepsen filled in as the Twins' closer and did an excellent job. The right-hander struck out Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, protecting the one-run lead and picking up his sixth save of the season and first as a Twin. He extended his scoreless streak to nine games. More >

Jepsen slams the door

"As a bullpen guy, it's about throwing a lot of seventh and eighth innings," Jepsen said. "The ninth, you still have to get three outs, but once you get three outs, the game is over."

Staying hot: Parra started slowly when coming over to the Orioles from the Brewers at the July 31 Trade Deadline, but he's been on a roll this past week. He's on an eight-game hitting streak -- during which the right fielder is batting .400 (14-for-35) with four home runs. The fourth gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead for starter Wei-Yin Chen, who tossed six innings of one-run ball in a no-decision.

Parra's three-run no-doubter

"Of course, when Parra hit the home run that could have been a win for us," Chen said. "But unfortunately tonight there were some weakly hit balls that found a hole or dropped in the field. It's just baseball."

O'Day's rough inning: Two bloopers, a hit batter, a walk and a sacrifice fly. That's what led to the Twins scoring three runs in the eighth off O'Day. Suzuki floated a ball over the drawn-in infield just onto the outfield grass to drive in the decisive runs. It was all dinks and doinks, but the Twins pushed across three runs in two-thirds of an inning against the sidewinder, who fell to 5-2. More >

"They didn't smoke any balls," O'Day said. "That's baseball. It happens. I made some good pitches, but it didn't turn out. Late innings, sometimes you've got to be able to strike guys out. I wasn't able to do that when I needed to."

Rosario's sac fly

I'll take that back: After losing the lead in the sixth, the Twins regained it in the eighth thanks to a productive inning from multiple parts. Following Sano's walk, Plouffe singled and Hunter was hit by a pitch, setting up Rosario's sacrifice fly. Suzuki then hit his flare over the head of second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

"A little different in how he got it done," Molitor said of Suzuki. "Last night, he used the barrel. He was fighting. You got a guy like O'Day out there. It brings back memories of certain guys you faced along the way. They drop down and they have movement with that Frisbee slider. He was just trying to battle and put the ball in play. He was able to fight it off into the outfield and over the infielder's head."

QUOTABLE
"Darren's a pretty tough critic of himself, but he's performed at such a high level, as good as any relief pitcher you want to see. I was kind of happy they finally hit the one line drive to left field, in a way. But that's the way it goes." -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter, on O'Day

Chen' solid start

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Torii Hunter is now batting .343/.425/.643 over his last 18 games against the Orioles, dating back to June 26, 2012, when he was a member of the Angels.

WHAT'S NEXT
Twins: Kyle Gibson (8-9, 3.99 ERA) will be on the mound Saturday for Game 3 (6:05 p.m. CT) of the four-game set in Baltimore. He earned a win over the Orioles on July 7 at Target Field, going six innings with two runs, one walk and seven strikeouts. Gibson has made one start at Camden Yards and did not factor into the decision, allowing one run on four hits in five innings.

Orioles: Chris Tillman (9-7, 4.54) tries to stretch his winning streak to eight on Saturday night (7:05 ET). This will be the first time the right-hander has faced the Twins this year. Tillman has not lost a decision since May 31 against the Rays.

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Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.