Liriano strikes out 10, but Twins fall to O's

Liriano strikes out 10, but Twins fall to O's

Liriano strikes out 10, but Twins fall to O's
MINNEAPOLIS -- For all the talk about Francisco Liriano's troubles with inconsistency throughout his career, he's been nothing but consistent since returning to the rotation on May 30 after a stint in the bullpen.

In his last 10 starts, including another solid outing against the Orioles on Wednesday, the left-hander has a 2.84 ERA with 77 strikeouts and 28 walks in 63 1/3 innings.

But he has just three wins to show for it over that impressive span, and was saddled with another loss on Wednesday in a 2-1 defeat to the Orioles at Target Field.

Liriano gave up just two runs -- coming on a two-run shot from Adam Jones in the first inning -- and struck out 10 over six innings, but was a hard-luck loser yet again.

"He's a heck of a pitcher, but we have to give him run support," right fielder Ben Revere said. "We know if we give him at least four-to-five runs he is going to take us home. Down the road, when he's on the mound, we have to help him out a little bit."

But there might not be a down the road for Liriano with the Twins, as he remains a valuable trade chip for the club, especially with his recent resurgence.

Several scouts were in attendance, with Liriano reaching double-digits in strikeouts for a second straight outing after he punched out a career-high 15 against the A's last Friday.

Liriano, though, said he's doing his best to block out all the trade rumors and focus on what he can control.

"I try not to listen to it," Liriano said. "It's not going to change anything. I'm just happy to be here. Whatever happens, happens. I don't know what is going to happen. So I try not to pay attention to it."

Liriano was hurt by just one mistake in the loss, as Jones deposited an 0-1 fastball into the second deck in left field for a two-run homer.

But Liriano insisted it wasn't a bad pitch, as it was a low fastball that Jones was able to go down and get for his 22nd blast of the year.

"I got pretty good sink on that pitch right there," Liriano said. "It wasn't a bad pitch at all. He put a good swing on it."

Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter, who entered with a 6.11 ERA, shut down the Twins after they combined for 25 runs in the first two games of the series.

Hunter gave up just one run on six hits without issuing a walk over 7 1/3 strong innings. His lone blemish was a solo homer hit by Josh Willingham in the fourth inning. It was Willingham's team-leading 23rd homer of the year.

"He had command of his fastball," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That's still the best pitch in baseball, fastball down and away. And he had a lot of counts in his favor. He established his fastball early and started mixing things up as he went the second time through the lineup."

The Twins didn't have too many opportunities with runners in scoring position, but went 0-for-6 in those situations. Pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit failed to come through with two on and two out in the seventh, as he popped out to second to end the inning.

They wasted another scoring opportunity in the eighth against left-hander Troy Patton, as Justin Morneau grounded out into Baltimore's infield shift with the bases loaded to end the inning.

"We had some opportunities to score runs," said bench coach Scott Ullger, who served as manager with Ron Gardenhire leaving the game with flu-like symptoms in the fifth inning. "Later in the game we had opportunities there with bases loaded and first and second and didn't cash in. They made some good pitches."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.