Twins make it close, but lose to Orioles 5-4
BALTIMORE — The Minnesota Twins were on the brink of losing another game, and flu-ridden Justin Morneau tried to muster up enough strength to make a difference.
Manager Ron Gardenhire appreciated the sentiment, and declined the offer.
The gesture did, however, say a lot about the struggling Twins. They might be in last place, but it's not because they don't care.
The Baltimore Orioles hit two homers off Nick Blackburn and held on to beat the Twins 5-4 on Wednesday night, dropping Minnesota to 6-12.
"We're not playing awful baseball," Blackburn said. "A couple breaks here and there and things would be different. Right now we're missing a couple of pretty good guys from our lineup, but I don't think anyone has given up."
Minnesota was again without Morneau and Delmon Young, both of whom are battling the flu. Morneau has missed four straight games, Young hasn't played since Monday and the short-handed Twins also have gone eight consecutive games without injured Joe Mauer (leg).
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said Morneau was just trying to make a difference in the ninth inning.
"He was out there at the end of the game telling me that if we get a chance to win, he could do it," Gardenhire said. "It was scary. He wanted to give it a shot."
Matt Wieters and Vladimir Guerrero connected for the Orioles, who also got two RBIs from Adam Jones.
Baltimore led 5-1 after three innings, an almost insurmountable lead against a team that ranks last in the majors in runs. Minnesota is the only club in baseball that has not yet scored more than five runs in a game this season.
"We haven't been swinging the bats well," Gardenhire said, "but I liked the way the guys got after it."
Orioles rookie Zach Britton (3-1) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings while battling through an upper-chest cold.
"He obviously wasn't 100 percent tonight. You could hear him wheezing," manager Buck Showalter said. "But I'm sure the Minnesota Twins don't want to hear it."
Wieters' two-run drive gave him six RBIs over a two-game span. Guerrero's homer was his second in two games and third this year.
Wieters, Guerrero and Jones led the way, but six different players got hits for Baltimore.
"That's the big thing what we have to do, just pass it along to the next guy," Wieters said. "If you just keep passing it along to the next guy, then you're going to score a lot of runs."
After Britton left, Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara followed before Kevin Gregg worked a perfect ninth for his second save.
Michael Cuddyer homered for the Twins and Danny Valencia went 2 for 4 with three RBIs.
Blackburn (1-3) yielded five runs and seven hits in seven innings. He's 11-27 in 56 career road games compared to 22-12 at home.
"His back tightened and he took himself out," Gardenhire said. "He gave us a great effort. He stayed in there and gave us a great opportunity to get back into the game — and we did."
The Twins trailed 5-1 in the sixth when Valencia came through with a two-out, two-run single. He added a two-out RBI single off Uehara in the eighth.
"Not everyone is playing their best ball right now, but the batting is getting better," Blackburn said. "The pitching will always be there, so we have to put it all together at the same time."
Cuddyer led off the second inning with his first homer, increasing Minnesota's major league-low total to six. The Twins then put runners at second and third with two outs before Matt Tolbert popped out.
Baltimore took control with four runs in the bottom half. After Jones doubled in two runs, Wieters hit a drive into the center-field bleachers. Wieters is 6 for 6 with 10 RBIs with runners in scoring position.
Guerrero went deep in the third for a 5-1 lead.
NOTES: Baltimore's Nick Markakis broke a 1-for-21 skid with a third-inning single. ... Valencia is 10 for 21 lifetime against Baltimore. ... Minnesota's Jim Thome went 0 for 2 with two walks, lowering his batting average to .163. ... Baltimore has won two of three in the series that concludes Thursday, meaning the Twins have gone six series this year without winning one.