MINNEAPOLIS, MAY 30 -- Things were kind of backwards tonight for the Baltimore Orioles. Their best starting pitcher got rocked, their best fielding outfielder looked awful on a fly ball and it wasn't his fault, their hottest batter didn't come through and one of their coldest did.
Final: Minnesota Twins 12, Orioles 3.
It was Baltimore's second loss in a three-game visit to the Metrodome, where they are 3-16 since May 1987. The Twins, who have won eight of their last 11, set a club record for victories in May with their 20th in 27 games this month.
Catcher Brian Harper had three hits, three runs batted in as Minnesota totaled 16 hits and also got three hits from Gene Larkin and three RBI by Fred Manrique.
The Orioles established their season highs for hits and runs allowed. Pete Harnisch (5-2) -- Baltimore's leader in victories, innings pitched and complete games -- allowed six runs on eight hits in three-plus innings.
Hurting him mightily in a four-run second for Minnesota was an easy fly that center fielder Steve Finley lost sight of.
In the fourth, Cal Ripken Jr. led off with his first homer in 2 1/2 weeks, but after the next two batters reached base, Randy Milligan, who had reached in 12 of his previous 13 plate appearances, began the killing off of the inning by striking out.
Adding to the strangeness, Rene Gonzales had his first three-hit game since he joined the Orioles in 1987. But after the Orioles had scored two runs and loaded the bases in the eighth, he grounded out on a nice play by Manrique at second base.
Minnesota added two runs in its half of the eighth.
The only thing normal was Roy Smith (4-4). He defeated the Orioles for the fourth time in as many decisions against them, weathering 10 hits in 7 2/3 innings.
The Twins jumped on Harnisch in the second. Sort of. Yes, they scored four runs on five consecutive hits (four doubles) before he retired a batter. But two of the hits were bloopers and a third was misplayed and became more damaging than it should have.
"He made the pitches to get a couple of outs, he didn't get them and it took us out of the game right there," Orioles Manager Frank Robinson said.
Robinson, informed today he faces a three-day American League suspension for Monday's spat with umpire Drew Coble, said: "The day had nothing to do with the ballgame, but it didn't make it any nicer. I would have liked to have gone out a winner, but what the hey, it didn't happen."
Kent Hrbek led off the home second with a shot that bounced over the center field fence for a ground-rule double. Gary Gaetti hit a high fly ball to center that Finley lost in either the stadium's ivory-colored fabric ceiling or the lights. Either way, he ended up standing in the middle of the outfield with his arms raised in utter helplessness. The ball bounced about 15 feet from where stood. He did well to quickly play the hop as Hrbek advanced to third and Gaetti pulled into second.
The next hit was even more demoralizing for Baltimore. Harnisch made a good pitch to Larkin, who looped it toward short right-center. Second baseman Gonzales, the only Oriole with a chance at the ball, made a last-second, leaping stab, but the ball sailed over his glove for a single that brought home Hrbek and moved Gaetti to third. Harnisch, who had gone to back up third, angrily shook his head in disbelief as he stalked back to the mound.
Pitching coach Al Jackson came out to try to soothe Harnisch. Harper lined the next pitch into the right-center field gap. Right fielder Joe Orsulak rushed over and got his glove on the ball, but his momentum carried him through it. So, not only did Gaetti score, but Larkin motored home from first and Harper made second.
Manrique promptly made it 4-0 by lining an opposite field double into the right field corner. Gonzales then saved a run by diving to flag down a hard grounder by Al Newman.
Baltimore made it 4-1 in the fourth, but that was little consolation considering its first three batters reached base, beginning with a line drive home run to left by Ripken. It was his seventh homer of the season, but his first since May 12, when he hit two in Oakland, and only his fifth hit in 42 at-bats.
Mickey Tettleton walked and Orsulak singled him to third. But Milligan, seven for his previous 11 with eight walks and three homers, struck out on a devastating off-speed pitch. "I missed the pitch I should have hit," he said -- a fastball he fouled off. As for the out pitch, "I knew what was coming, but I couldn't sit back long enough and hit it."
Sam Horn, in his first game since spraining a shoulder May 7, popped out. Craig Worthington struck out.
In its fourth, Minnesota polished off Harnisch. Singles by Larkin and Harper and a walk to Manrique loaded the bases. When Harnisch's first pitch to Newman also was a ball, Jackson again visited the mound. And again, Harnisch gave up a hit on his next pitch, Newman singling to right for one run.
"I thought I had pretty good stuff," Harnisch said, "but anything I threw, they hit. It was one of those nights."
Brian Holton entered and got Dan Gladden to ground into a double play, but Harper came home to make it 6-1. And in the fifth, the Twins pulled away to 9-1.