MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles have been getting their brains beaten in for the last two months and limped into Target Field this week without a series victory in their last 14 tries. They didn’t just win the series against the hapless Minnesota Twins. The AL-worst O’s dominated them like no other opponent this season.
Mark Reynolds hit a three-run homer and Jo Jo Reyes went six strong innings to lead the Orioles to a 6-1 victory over the Twins on Thursday, Baltimore’s first four-game winning streak since early June. Reyes (7-10) allowed one run on five hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Craig Tatum added a two-run double for the Orioles, who haven’t had a winning streak this long since June 6-10.
“Sooner or later,” manager Buck Showalter said, “the baseball Gods kind of let you up for air.”
Anthony Swarzak (3-4) gave up five runs on eight hits in 3 1-3 innings after left-hander Francisco Liriano left with a strained shoulder after two innings.
Joe Mauer also missed his second straight game for the injury-ravaged Twins, with a stiff neck keeping him out.
Vlad Guerrero, Nolan Reimold and Ryan Adams added two hits each for the Orioles, who swept the Twins at home in a four-game series for the first time.
“The frustration level is at an all-time high for me with the losing and seeing guys get hurt,” said right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who has been with the Twins for 10 years. “It’s tough to go out there. Our coaches deserve an effort and our fans deserve an effort.”
The Twins have looked lifeless on the mound and in the batter’s box for most of the past month, turning Target Field into a place where opposing slumps come to die.
The Orioles had lost five in a row when the series started, and Reynolds and Reyes were the latest beneficiaries. The slugger entered the series on a 6-for-45 (.133) skid with 20 strikeouts. He went 7 for 17 (.412) with two homers and seven RBIs in the four games in Minnesota.
“I’ve had a rough stretch here the past week or two,” Reynolds said. “You know, you get a couple knocks here and there and kind of get some confidence going up a little bit. Hopefully it keeps snowballing here for me and I finish up the season strong.”
The lefty Reyes once went winless in 28 straight starts, and who had allowed 15 earned runs in his last two outings, breezed through a Twins lineup that has scored one run or less in seven of the last 10 games.
Justin Morneau doubled home Trevor Plouffe to tie the game 1-1 in the third inning, but the Twins left the bases loaded in the fifth and hitters 5-9 in the order went 1 for 17 with a single, three walks and four strikeouts in the game.
“It wasn’t my best outing, but I was able to get through six and not have to use the bullpen right away,” Reyes said.
The Twins couldn’t say the same thing.
Liriano walked Robert Andino with the bases loaded in the second inning to fall behind 1-0 and was placed on the disabled list after the game with a strained shoulder. Alex Burnett took his place to start the third.
It’s the third time in the last five days that a Twins starter hasn’t made it out of the third inning. Nick Blackburn left in the second inning because of injury on Sunday against the Yankees and Brian Duensing was knocked out by the Orioles in the third inning on Tuesday night.
The Twins were forced to go to Swarzak, who was scheduled to start the series opener against Detroit on Friday night, in the fourth.
Swarzak gave up a two-run double to Tatum in the sixth inning to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead and left after Reynolds’ three-run shot in the seventh made it 6-1.
It was the first four-game sweep for the Orioles since they did it to the Rangers from July 8-11, 2010.
“We caught the Twins down,” Showalter said. “They are a lot better club than they were able to show here. You know, we’ve been in that situation.”
NOTES: Orioles OF Adam Jones missed the game with soreness that likely stemmed from the illness that caused him to miss Tuesday night’s game. Orioles CF Matt Angle had a bunt single in the fifth for his first career major league hit. He started his career 0 for 13 before the base hit. After getting hit by a pitch on the left wrist on Tuesday night, an MRI revealed no broken bones for Cuddyer. He played and went 1 for 4. RHP Tommy Hunter starts for the Orioles on Friday in their series opener against the Yankees at Camden Yards. Hunter (2-2, 4.95) has made two home starts for the O’s this year, going 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. He’ll face RHP A.J. Burnett (9-10, 4.96). The Twins continue their home stand with a series against the AL Central-leading Tigers. With Swarzak rushed into emergency duty on Thursday, it was not immediately clear who would get the start against Detroit’s Rick Porcello.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)