BALTIMORE (AP) — Jeremy Guthrie pitched well enough against the Minnesota Twins to brag about his performance.
Instead, the Baltimore Orioles right-hander ended up talking about his shortcomings, and an even better outing by the opposing pitcher, following a 3-1 loss Thursday night.
Guthrie (1-3) gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out four, walked none and lowered his ERA to 3.12.
But Twins starter Scott Baker (1-2) allowed four hits over seven shutout innings, and Jim Thome and Michael Cuddyer hit home runs to help Minnesota salvage a split of the four-game series.
“I was outpitched tonight,” Guthrie said. “I didn’t make the big pitches when I needed to.”
Especially against Thome, who hit his 591st career homer in the second inning and put Minnesota up 2-0 with an RBI single in the sixth.
The home run came on a changeup that Guthrie wished he could take back.
“It was not a good pitch,” he said. “It was the wrong part of the plate and probably a little harder than it needed to be. It just didn’t have the softness of the changeup earlier in the at-bat that he swung through.”
Not that anyone on the Orioles was complaining about the way Guthrie pitched.
“He gave us a real chance to win. Deserves a better fate,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He just ran up against a guy who was as good as he was tonight, and maybe a little better.”
Baker struck out nine and walked one. The right-hander is 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA in eight career starts against Baltimore.
“It seems like we can’t beat the guy,” Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said. “He’s a good pitcher, so you tip your hat and unfortunately you move on.”
Thome, who began the night with a .163 batting average and five RBIs, needs only nine more homers to join the 600 club.
“As a fan of the game, as a fan of history, it is exciting,” he said. “As you get closer, you get asked about it more because it is a historical thing. You just try not to think about it too much. It’s important to stay with your approach.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had no doubt that Thome would eventually return to form.
“He’s never that far off. That’s why he has almost 600 home runs,” Gardenhire said. “Thome can swing. That’s one thing he can do is swing the bat.”
After the Orioles scored a run against the Twins bullpen in the eighth, Matt Capps, the fourth Minnesota reliever, got three outs for his third save.
Baltimore put a runner at second base in three of the first five innings, but couldn’t capitalize. Nick Markakis twice made the final out with runners at first and second.
Minnesota went up 2-0 in the sixth. Alexi Casilla hit a leadoff single, advanced when Cuddyer was hit by a pitch and scored on Thome’s single to center.
Cuddyer homered in the eighth off Mike Gonzalez. It was his second in two nights and upped his RBI total for the season to two.
Gonzalez has a 10.80 ERA in six innings this season.
“He’s got to get better and he knows that,” Showalter said.
In the bottom half, Vladimir Guerrero singled in a run with two outs before Glen Perkins retired Luke Scott with runners at the corners.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)