"They look at me and say, 'I don't know how I got here,"' Morneau said with a smile.
They seldom do.
Liriano (5-1) carried a no-hitter into the fifth before Javy Lopez managed the Orioles' lone hit against the 22-year-old left-hander.
The Dominican has been stellar since entering the starting rotation on May 19. He walked two and went to three-ball counts a number of times on Sunday, but his ability to throw a 91-mph slider at any count kept the Orioles off balance all game.
"He misfires sometimes, but it's a good misfire because he can come back with some of the nastiest pitches you've ever seen," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Orioles starter Erik Bedard (5-6) was equally tough through the first three-plus innings, allowing just a single to Morneau while in pursuit of his first win in five starts.
The Twins finally got to him in the fourth, perhaps spurred by Gardenhire's fifth ejection of the season.
Gardenhire was tossed when he came out to argue after home plate umpire Ed Rapuano ruled that Michael Cuddyer fouled a pitch into catcher Ramon Hernandez's glove for strike three. Replays showed Cuddyer never made contact and may have checked his swing.
Even after getting tossed, Gardenhire stood in the batter's box and mimicked swinging a bat several times before finally stomping off to the cheers of the home crowd.
With Joe Mauer already on base, Morneau hit his 14th homer of the season on the very next pitch for a 2-0 lead.
Bedard looked to be on the ropes in the fifth when he walked Nick Punto, gave up an infield single to Luis Castillo and walked Lew Ford to load the bases.
He then fell behind 3-0 to Mauer, who entered the day hitting a league-leading .388 and having reached base four times in each of the last five games, but rebounded to strike him out. Bedard followed that up by fanning Cuddyer and Morneau to escape the inning unscathed.
"That was good for him to do something like that, but in the total picture he's got to get us past that and take us deeper," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said.
Chris Britton relieved him to start the sixth, and Bedard finished with the two runs and five hits with a season-high nine strikeouts in five innings. Since starting the season 4-0 with a 2.77 ERA, Bedard is 1-6 with a 7.26 ERA in his last 10 starts.
"I just need to try to throw more strikes," Bedard said.
The Twins tacked on two more runs in the sixth off the normally stingy Britton, who has only allowed the opponent to score in three of his 17 appearances.
Nick Punto doubled home Tony Batista and then scored on a single by Castillo to make it 4-0.
But Liriano undoubtedly was the star of the show in his longest outing of the season. He went to work with a casual cool that belies his age and defies convention.
While many of today's top starters are sequestered before the game, deep into their pregame routines, Liriano hung out in the clubhouse, lounging on the couch with teammates who were watching Mexico play Iran in the World Cup.
When talking about his fast emergence as one of the dominating starters in the league, Liriano was equally unfazed, brushing the praise and hype aside.
"I don't even think about it," Liriano said. "I don't really listen to it. I just keep going out there and doing what I'm doing."
Once he took the mound, he was all business, and the Orioles were no match.
Baltimore fell to 5-14 on the season when facing lefty starters and is hitting a league-worst .215 against lefties.
"He had all his pitches working good and had good command of them," Hernandez said. "When he can throw any pitch for a strike at any time, it's pretty tough to beat."
|Francisco Liriano hurls a one-hitter in his seven innings of work before the 'pen closes it out. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Brian Roberts, 2B||3||0||0||0||1||1||3|
|Melvin Mora, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||1||1|
|Miguel Tejada, SS||4||0||1||0||0||1||1|
|Ramon Hernandez, C||4||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Kevin Millar, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||2||1|
|Javy Lopez, DH||3||0||1||0||0||1||0|
|Jeff Conine, LF||3||0||0||0||0||1||1|
|Corey Patterson, CF||3||0||1||0||0||1||1|
|Luis Matos, RF||1||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|2B - Miguel Tejada (, Nathan)|
|SB - Corey Patterson (, 2nd base off Rincon/Mauer), Luis Matos (, 3rd base off Liriano/Mauer)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|Erik Bedard (L,-)||5||5||2||2||3||9||1|
|Pitches-Strikes - Erik Bedard 115-73, Chris Britton 19-13, Sendy Rleal 15-12, Bruce Chen 9-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Erik Bedard 4-2, Sendy Rleal 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Erik Bedard 23, Chris Britton 6, Sendy Rleal 3, Bruce Chen 3|
|Luis Castillo, 2B||4||0||2||1||0||0||0|
|Lew Ford, LF||3||0||0||0||1||0||1|
|Joe Mauer, C||4||1||1||0||0||1||3|
|Michael Cuddyer, RF||4||0||0||0||0||4||4|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||4||1||2||2||0||2||3|
|Torii Hunter, CF||4||0||1||0||0||1||1|
|Rondell White, DH||3||0||0||0||1||1||1|
|Tony Batista, 3B||4||1||1||0||0||2||2|
|Nick Punto, SS||2||1||1||1||1||0||0|
|2B - Tony Batista (, Britton), Nick Punto (, Britton)|
|HR - Justin Morneau (, Bedard)|
|RBI - Luis Castillo (), Justin Morneau 2 (), Nick Punto ()|
|2-OUT RBI - Luis Castillo (), Justin Morneau 2 (), Nick Punto ()|
|SB - Luis Castillo (, 2nd base off Britton/Hernandez)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Punto-Castillo-Morneau|
|E - Joe Mauer (, Wild throw)|
|Francisco Liriano (W,-)||7||1||0||0||2||6||0|
|Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 98-62, Juan Rincon 19-11, Joe Nathan 16-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 8-6, Juan Rincon 1-1, Joe Nathan 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 23, Juan Rincon 5, Joe Nathan 4|
|Attendance - 25438|
|Game Time - 2:37|
|Temperature - 70|
|Umpires - Home - Ed Rapuano, First Base - Tony Randazzo, Second Base - Jim Wolf, Third Base - Joe West|