Jepsen's struggles in 'pen on par with Twins

Closer surrenders go-ahead single in 9th as O's win series opener

Jepsen's struggles in 'pen on par with Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was the kind of sequence that essentially served as a microcosm for the Twins' struggles so far this season, especially late in games.

Closer Kevin Jepsen was one strike away from getting out of the ninth inning in Tuesday night's 5-3 loss to the Orioles on two different occasions, only to give up a two-out double to Joey Rickard on a 3-2 fastball that set the stage for a go-ahead two-run single from Adam Jones on a 2-2 fastball after an intentional walk to Manny Machado and a wild pitch. The hard liner to left might've been caught by Oswaldo Arcia if he took a better route, but instead it ricocheted off him as he tried to make a sliding catch and was the deciding blow that extended Minnesota's losing streak to six games.

"Kevin gets the first two and then Rickard battles and doubles," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Machado is their hottest hitter so we were a little careful there and we just decided to take our shot with a veteran hitter who is a perennial All-Star, and he came through. I'm not sure if Arcia lost that one in the lights or not, but it was a tough play. It was a bullet."

The Twins have now been outscored, 43-27, in the final three innings of games this season, leading to an 8-24 start that's the worst in franchise history through 32 games, eclipsing a 9-23 start in 2012.

"I have to continue to look for light and be optimistic about what we can over the next 130 games," Molitor said. "I don't want to get into conversations about a long summer. There's too much baseball. But we need to find a way to do better and come up with wins in the games where we've come up on the short end of."

It was another tough outing for Jepsen, who has four losses and a 5.40 ERA as the Twins' closer with Glen Perkins out with a shoulder strain. Jepsen appeared hesitant to throw his curveball to Jones with two strikes after bouncing one in the dirt that allowed Rickard and Machado to advance. Instead, he challenged Jones with back-to-back 95-mph fastballs and Jones was able to line it to left for the eventual game-winner.

Jones' go-ahead single

"I had a good at-bat with Jonesy and he hit a ball to left, and it fell in," Jepsen said. "Off the bat, I thought [Arcia] had a shot at it. I thought it hung up. But it's hard from my angle."

Arcia said he misread the ball, as he didn't realize it was sinking as much as it did, and it ended up as a cartoonish-looking play that saw the ball carom off his foot as he dived.

"It was well-hit," Arcia said. "I didn't realize it was hit down and not up. When I realized that, I tried to make a dive for it, but it was too late."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.