BALTIMORE (AP) –The Baltimore Orioles would have preferred to talk about the end of a miserable losing streak.
Instead, they were left trying to sift through the positives of their eighth consecutive defeat, 5-3 on Monday night against the Minnesota Twins.
Starter Chris Tillman allowed three runs and six hits over 6 2/3 innings, a vast improvement over his previous outing in Yankee Stadium and far better than the collective work of the starters (0-4, 8.37 ERA) during an 0-5 road trip that ended Sunday.
“I was proud of the way Tillman pitched,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He gave us a chance to win.”
In a loss to the Yankees, Tillman gave up six runs and nine hits in 1 2/3 innings. He was much more effective against the Twins, even if he — or Baltimore — didn’t get a victory to show for it.
“It was OK. It wasn’t good enough,” the right-hander said. “It’s definitely a work in progress here. From the last start to this start, I’ve come a long way. I still have a lot of work to do.”
The Orioles got solo homers from Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Luke Scott. But Baltimore wasted five walks and stranded seven runners.
“We’ve got to create more opportunities out there and put a little more stress on pitchers,” Showalter said. “And we will. We will.”
Drew Butera had a career-high three RBIs for the last-place Twins (6-10), who have won two in a row for the first time this season.
“Through the course of a season, you’re going to have these little downs,” Butera said. “It’s how you respond back and how you play during those that makes the season. You’re going to have it — might as well get it out of the way.”
The Orioles almost certainly feel the same way.
Minnesota led 3-0 before Francisco Liriano yielded homers to Jones and Wieters in the seventh. Baltimore got two on with two outs later in the inning before Derrek Lee to hit a routine fly to center against former Oriole Jim Hoey.
The Twins made it 5-2 in the ninth against Kevin Gregg. After Butera singled in a run, Danny Valencia scored on a wild pitch.
Liriano (1-3) gave up two runs, five hits and five walks in 7 1-3 innings. The left-hander came in with a 9.42 ERA and had not pitched into the sixth inning of any of his previous three starts.
“He’s just a tough guy to hit,” Showalter said. “He’s been struggling some this year but we all know what he’s capable of.”
Matt Capps worked the ninth for his second save — the second in two games — despite allowing a pinch-hit homer to Scott. Capps took the closer role from Joe Nathan, who blew two save opportunities last week at Tampa Bay.
Tillman (0-2) turned in a decent performance, but he received little offensive support.
“We put ourselves in some situations to get a big hit and we didn’t,” Jones said. “… You just have got to come out tomorrow ready to swing the bats and bust this losing streak wide open.”
Baltimore got runners on second and third with two outs in the first before Mark Reynolds looked at a full-count third strike.
Butera then put the Twins ahead for good, hitting a two-run double following singles by Michael Cuddyer and Valencia. Butera came to the plate with a .133 batting average and one RBI.
“We had some key hits from some people you don’t expect a lot of hitting out of,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That’s big for our baseball team. Right now, we’ve got two of our biggest hitters out and some people have to step up and get it done.”
Minnesota was missing first baseman Justin Morneau, who sat out with flulike symptoms, and Butera was filling in for Joe Mauer, who is on the 15-day disabled with bilateral leg weakness.
“It’s tough to replace a guy like Joe Mauer,” Butera said. “His bat and his presence in the lineup is definitely second to none. It’s tough to accomplish what he does offensively, so my job is not to lose anything defensively and to win. If we win, we’ll be OK.”
Minnesota made it 3-0 in the third. Delmon Young hit a leadoff single, took third on a double by Cuddyer and scored on a groundout by Valencia.
Gardenhire was ejected by home plate umpire Chris Guccione for arguing a called third strike on Jason Kubel in the eighth. It was Gardenhire’s 53rd career ejection.
Kubel and teammate Jim Thome each struck out three times.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)