Orioles 11, Twins 2
Rafael Palmeiro made some home-run history, too, on Friday night.
Palmeiro hit his 548th homer to tie Mike Schmidt for 10th place on the career list, and Larry Bigbie had a career-high seven RBI to lead the Baltimore Orioles over Minnesota, 11-2, Friday night to stop the Twins' longest winning streak of the season at nine.
Minnesota's magic number to clinch the AL Central fell to three when the Chicago White Sox lost to Detroit.
Palmeiro's two-run homer off Terry Mulholland (5-9), a drive off the facing of the upper deck in right, put Baltimore ahead 3-2 in the sixth. Palmeiro reached 20 homers for the 14th straight season, matching a feat previously accomplished by Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Eddie Mathews and Schmidt.
"It feels great to be in a class like that, but I don't pay much attention to it," Palmeiro said. "Right now I have other things on my mind."
Bigbie had an RBI double in the fifth, then capped a pair of five-run innings with a three-run double in the sixth and a three-run homer in the seventh.
Sidney Ponson (11-14) won for the eighth time in 10 decisions, giving up two runs and five hits in seven innings. Baltimore had been the previous team to beat Minnesota, on Sept. 6, and is 51-23 against the Twins since 1996.
"I have three more starts," Ponson said. "If I win all three, I'll salvage this season."
Mulholland gave up a single to Javy Lopez after Palmeiro's homer and was replaced by Jesse Crain. B.J. Surhoff singled, Jay Gibbons walked and Bigbie doubled for a 6-2 lead.
"It was a case of making a couple mistake pitches late in the ball game," Mulholland said.
The Twins also lost two of their outfielders for at least a game, as left fielder Shannon Stewart bruised ribs and suffered a mild concussion, and center fielder Torii Hunter bruised his knee.
Stewart was injured after his left foot caught a bullpen mound and he fell headfirst across the mound and landed against the fence. He was helped to his feet by teammates and left the field under his own power.
Hunter dove to catch Palmeiro's blooper with two on and no out in the seventh and his left knee smacked the turf. The ball rolled free and Hunter recovered to throw to third for a forceout, but he came out of the game before the eighth inning.
"It's like someone took their knuckles and just beat my knee up," Hunter said.
Asked what would have happened had the old, harder Metrodome carpet not been replaced before the season, Hunter joked, "I'd be dead," before turning serious and saying he probably would have broken the kneecap.
Lopez hit an RBI single in the seventh off Grant Balfour, Surhoff singled in a run against Joe Beimel, and Bigbie homered.
Bigbie has hit safely in 12 of 14 games since coming off the disabled list with a groin strain on Sept. 1. He said frustration from his first at-bat, when he struck out after failing to bunt two runners over, fueled his big night.
"It motivates you when you come up in the next at-bat with the opportunity to drive in a run and make up for the miscue," Bigbie said. "And in one great at-bat, it gives you confidence for the rest of the game."
Bigbie drove in the Orioles' first run in the fifth with a two-out RBI double. The Twins went ahead in the bottom half on Michael Cuddyer's solo homer and Shannon Stewart's RBI groundout.
But Minnesota didn't register any other threats against Ponson.