MINNEAPOLIS, JUNE 29 -- Badly in need of a some breaks and clutch hits, the Baltimore Orioles manufactured and received a few of both tonight and defeated the Minnesota Twins, 6-2, at the Metrodome.
It was the most runs the Orioles had scored since a 7-2 pasting of Roger Clemens and the Boston Red Sox on June 18. It was the same number of runs they had scored in their previous three road games combined and the most runs they had scored in a road game since an 8-7 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on June 6.
"It certainly makes a difference when you hit with runners on base," said Manager Frank Robinson, whose club went four for nine with runners in scoring position after being 11 for its previous 71 in that situation. "I knew sooner or later we were going to do it. It's just been later."
Perhaps too much later. Tonight's victory was just the second in eight games and fourth in 18 for Baltimore, which began the night 11 1/2 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
Dave Johnson continued to pitch well and rookie Curt Schilling, recalled this afternoon from Class AAA Rochester to replace injured pitcher Joe Price, earned his first major league save. Johnson (7-4) allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. Schilling allowed one hit and struck out four.
Baltimore trailed, 2-1, going into the seventh. But Allan Anderson, the Twins' version of Jeff Ballard this season, walked Randy Milligan and Mickey Tettleton to begin the inning.
Manager Tom Kelly replaced Anderson, allowing the left-hander to depart with a lead for the first time since May 24. But Jack Savage needed just 10 pitches to send Anderson (2-11) to his seventh consecutive loss. At this time last season, Anderson's record was 9-4.
Savage fell behind Cal Ripken, 3-1, but he jammed Ripken with his next pitch, forcing him to fly out weakly to left.
Craig Worthington, four for his previous 28, then lined a single. Center fielder Kirby Puckett reached the ball in good shape and seemed likely to have a play at the plate on Milligan when third-base coach Cal Ripken Sr. windmilled him toward home. But Puckett made a throw that was high and up the first-base line. Milligan scored the tying run standing up.
On Savage's next pitch, Bob Melvin lined a single to right that brought home Tettleton for a 3-2 lead and advanced Worthington to third. It was Melvin's second run-scoring hit of the night and made him 29 for 91 on the road (.319). He is four for 44 at home.
"That's what we have to do when we get guys on," Johnson said. "When we get guys on first and second with none out, we have to get one, two or three runs."
The Orioles made it four.
Kelly called for John Candelaria. Robinson sent Tim Hulett to pinch-hit for Brad Komminsk.
Hulett hit a grounder to shortstop Greg Gagne, who flipped the ball to second baseman Al Newman for the force. Melvin was not bearing down on Newman, but Newman made a balletic turn and a throw to first that pulled Kent Hrbek off the bag to the outfield side. Worthington scored, making it 4-2.
Donell Nixon then hit a pop fly to center. Puckett came in on the ball, then lost it. It fell behind for a double that brought home Hulett and made the score 5-2.
The Orioles added a run with two out in the ninth on back-to-back bloop doubles by Mike Devereaux and Finley.
Johnson, who has a 3.09 ERA and 3-1 record in his last seven starts, tired in the seventh. Robinson brought in Schilling, who left Rochester a little bit after noon today.
The biggest question about the right-hander had been his ability to throw a good slider. Tonight he did.
Minnesota took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on three consecutive two-out hits. Hrbek, whose leadoff double in the second made him the only base runner among the Twins' first 12 batters, doubled again.
Gary Gaetti followed with an infield single. Brian Harper, who entered the game five for 12 with three RBI against the Orioles this season, hit a sinking line drive to left. Left fielder Nixon seemed to hesitate for only a split second, but that was the difference between a running, shoestring catch and run-scoring single.
Baltimore tied the score in the fifth, however -- also on a two-out hit.
Tettleton led off with a full-swing dribbler along the third base line. Neither third baseman Gaetti, who was playing back, nor Anderson had a chance. When Anderson fell behind Ripken, 3-1, the Orioles again tried to be aggressive on the bases. They again failed when Ripken, with the hit-and-run on, swung and missed. Tettleton was caught stealing by a wide margin.
But Ripken walked on the next pitch and advanced to second on Worthington's slow chopper to third. Melvin grounded a single up the middle to bring home Ripken.