The Orioles had a chance to sweep the Minnesota Twins in a four-game series at home Monday for the first time in the franchise's history.
They just couldn't come back a second time, losing 6-4 to the Twins after Minnesota scored three times in the eighth. Nelson Cruz's 36th home run of the season against Twins closer Glen Perkins reduced Minnesota's lead to two runs, but Perkins recorded the final two outs for his 33rd save.
The Orioles (79-57) had their four-game winning streak snapped and saw their lead in the American League East division drop to 8 1/2 games over the idle New York Yankees. The Twins (60-77) have won just two of their last nine games.
The Orioles looked like they again were employing the "new hero every game" strategy in the seventh when they finally broke through against Twins right-hander Phil Hughes (15-9). Catcher Nick Hundley launched a two-out, two-strike cut-fastball from Hughes into the left-field stands for a three-run homer, tying the game at 3-3.
But the Orioles' staunch bullpen cracked some in the eighth. After starter Kevin Gausman walked the leadoff hitter and Jimmy Paredes made an error, Andrew Miller entered and gave up a two-run single to Joe Mauer and an RBI single to Kennys Vargas.
Miller had allowed only two of 30 inherited runners to score before Saturday night. He has now allowed all three to score in his past two outings.
Gausman, who threw a career-high 7 1/3 innings, walked off in the eighth to a standing ovation from the announced 33,156. Monday's attendance pushed Camden Yards over the two million mark for the third consecutive season after missing that milestone from 2008 to 2011. The Orioles have 13 more home games this season.
Gausman had never faced the Twins in his brief career. And for five innings he was dominant, permitting just two singles -- both in the second inning -- in that span. With one out in the sixth, Danny Santana hit a ball past Paredes that was ruled a single.
Brian Dozier followed with a hit and then Mauer smacked a pitch over Delmon Young's head in left field. The ball hit the bottom of the wall and scooted past Young for a two-run triple by Mauer. He scored a batter later on a sacrifice fly by Vargas to give the Twins a 3-0 lead.
Gausman (7-7) ultimately was charged with five runs (four earned), five hits and two walks while striking out seven hitters, including the last batter he faced.
Down, 3-0, in the seventh, the Orioles got all of it back on one swing from Hundley, his fifth of the season, his fourth as an Oriole and his first since Aug. 19.
Hughes, who had played his entire career with the Yankees before signing with the Twins in the offseason, has a long history against the Orioles.
Heading into Monday, he had faced them 21 times (18 starts) and was 7-5 with a 5.06 ERA. In his lone start against the Orioles with Minnesota on May 4 at Target Field, Hughes allowed just two runs in 6 1/3 innings for the victory.
Hughes, 28, pitched well again Monday. He allowed two hits in the second inning and then retired 11 straight until Nick Markakis' one-out single in the bottom of the sixth. He allowed three unearned runs and five hits in eight innings.
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