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Twins closing in on postseason with win over Orioles

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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BALTIMORE -- The Minnesota Twins headed home, eager to clinch a spot in the playoffs so they can enjoy themselves a bit before again experiencing the pressure associated with postseason baseball.

Joe Mauer and Phil Nevin hit two-run homers, and the Twins moved closer to sealing a playoff berth by beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 Sunday.

Any combination of Minnesota wins or losses by the Chicago White Sox totaling two will ensure the Twins a trip to the postseason.

"We still haven't got ourselves into the playoffs yet, but we're pretty close. Guys are getting excited," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The ballgames all feel like playoff games right now. That's not a bad thing, because it prepares you if you get into the postseason."

Then again, Gardenhire wouldn't mind a chance to relax for a bit. The Twins just completed an exhausting 10-game trip, but they can't let up until their quest to reach the playoffs is completed.

"We'd like to try and get that thing done and at least clinch a wild card so a couple of guys here could at least get a breath," Gardenhire said. "You've got to keep plugging and you got to keep playing. Going home now is huge."

Minnesota has a chance to get in as the AL Central champs. The Twins are 1½ games behind first-place Detroit, which clinched no worse than the wild-card berth Sunday with an 11-4 win at Kansas City.

Mauer and Luis Castillo had three hits for the Twins, and Nevin finished with three RBI. Nevin's homer, which made it 6-3 in the eighth, was his first since coming to the Twins from the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 31.

"I can honestly say this is the most fun I've had playing baseball at this level anywhere," said Nevin, who has never been to the playoffs. "I can't wait to have somebody dump champagne over my head and something like that."

What better place for that to happen than at home? The Twins went 42-39 on the road, but at home they're an AL-best 50-24.

"We've obviously played good at home. We like being there," Nevin said. "I know coming in as a visiting player it's a tough place to play, and you would think the crowd is going to be into it pretty good this last week."

Miguel Tejada hit two solo homers for the Orioles, upping his total to a team-high 24. The first home run was his first since Aug. 20, and it ended a career-high run of 120 at-bats without a homer.

"I don't really look for home runs, but today I got two," he said. "I always say I'm not a home run hitter. The most important thing for me is to be on the field every day and be consistent at the plate."

Corey Patterson also homered for Baltimore, which dropped two of three to the Twins and closed its home schedule at 40-41.

"We were kind of hoping we could have given the fans a little bit better to look at, but we'll just have to do it on the road," manager Sam Perlozzo said.

Twins starter Matt Garza (3-5) allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He yielded three homers -- matching the total he surrendered over 41 2/3 innings before Sunday.

Joe Nathan, the seventh Minnesota pitcher, worked the ninth for his 35th save.

"That's the first time we've had a 35-save guy three years in a row with the Minnesota Twins organization. That's pretty impressive," Gardenhire said. "That tells you a little about the guy at the end of the ball game for us."

Baltimore rookie Adam Loewen (6-6) gave up four runs, three earned, in six innings. The left-hander had eight strikeouts, matching his career high.

Mauer staked the Twins to a 2-0 lead in the first when he homered after Castillo opened the game with a double. An RBI single by Torii Hunter and Nevin's sacrifice fly made it 4-0 in the third.

Tejada homered in the fourth and again leading off the sixth. After Patterson homered with two outs in the sixth to bring Baltimore to 4-3, Garza was lifted after walking Jeff Fiorentino.

Notes

  • The game was delayed by rain for 29 minutes after the sixth inning.
  • The Orioles drew 2,153,139 fans this season, the lowest total in the 15-year history of Camden Yards.
  • Minnesota won the season series 6-3.
  • The Twins outhit Baltimore 13-9 and improved to 77-3 when outhitting the opposition.
  • Baltimore's Chris Gomez extended his career-high hitting streak to 16 games.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Phil Nevin gets a little credit from Luis Castillo after he makes the score 6-3 with a solo homer. (AP)
Phil Nevin gets a little credit from Luis Castillo after he makes the score 6-3 with a solo homer. (AP)

Players of the Game
Baltimore

M. Tejada
AB 3
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 2
Minnesota

J. Mauer
AB 5
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Minnesota Twins
Luis Castillo, 2B5130000 .298
Nick Punto, 3B4010012 .293
Joe Mauer, C5132011 .347
Michael Cuddyer, RF4110101 .278
Justin Morneau, DH5120023 .323
Torii Hunter, CF5011025 .279
Rondell White, LF3000011 .241
    Lew Ford, PR-LF1100011 .222
Phil Nevin, 1B3113020 .244
Jason Bartlett, SS4010012 .318
Totals39613611116 
Batting
2B - Luis Castillo (22, Loewen)
HR - Joe Mauer (12, Loewen), Phil Nevin (22, Ortiz)
SF - Phil Nevin (2)
SH - Nick Punto (10)
RBI - Joe Mauer 2 (81), Torii Hunter (93), Phil Nevin 3 (68)
CS - Luis Castillo (11, 2nd base by Ortiz/Chavez)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Mauer-Punto
Minnesota Twins
Matt Garza (W,3-5) 5.2633343 5.32
Juan Rincon (H,26) 0.1000000 3.04
Dennys Reyes (H,15) 0.1200000 0.91
Pat Neshek (H,10) 0.2000010 2.38
Glen Perkins0100000 0.00
Jesse Crain (H,10) 1000000 3.62
Joe Nathan (S,35) 1000020 1.68
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Garza 99-67, Juan Rincon 6-4, Dennys Reyes 9-6, Pat Neshek 8-5, Glen Perkins 3-2, Jesse Crain 8-7, Joe Nathan 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Garza 4-9, Juan Rincon 1-0, Dennys Reyes 1-0, Jesse Crain 1-2
Batters Faced - Matt Garza 26, Juan Rincon 1, Dennys Reyes 3, Pat Neshek 1, Glen Perkins 1, Jesse Crain 3, Joe Nathan 3
Baltimore Orioles
Brian Roberts, 2B5000012 .293
Chris Gomez, 3B5010012 .328
Nick Markakis, RF4010001 .298
Miguel Tejada, SS3222112 .332
Jay Gibbons, DH4010011 .278
    David Newhan, PR-DH0000000 .241
Kevin Millar, 1B3000100 .260
Corey Patterson, CF4121012 .275
Jeff Fiorentino, LF3000113 .222
Raul Chavez, C3020001 .192
   a- Ramon Hernandez, PH1000010 .273
Totals353933714 
a-struck out for Chavez in the 9th
Batting
2B - Corey Patterson (19, Garza)
HR - Miguel Tejada 2 (24, Garza, Garza), Corey Patterson (15, Garza)
RBI - Miguel Tejada 2 (97), Corey Patterson (52)
2-OUT RBI - Corey Patterson (21)
CS - Chris Gomez (2, 3rd base by Neshek/Mauer)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
E - Brian Roberts (8, ), Miguel Tejada (19, )
Baltimore Orioles
Adam Loewen (L,6-6) 6843181 5.30
Brian Burres 0.2200000 3.18
Todd Williams 0.1000000 4.82
Russ Ortiz 0.2322001 8.13
Bruce Chen 0.1000000 6.50
Julio Manon 1000030 5.94
HBP - R. White (by Russ Ortiz)
WP - Adam Loewen (3), Julio Manon (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Adam Loewen 106-71, Brian Burres 16-11, Todd Williams 2-2, Russ Ortiz 18-10, Bruce Chen 4-3, Julio Manon 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Adam Loewen 5-6, Brian Burres 2-0, Todd Williams 1-0, Russ Ortiz 1-0, Julio Manon 1-0
Batters Faced - Adam Loewen 28, Brian Burres 4, Todd Williams 1, Russ Ortiz 5, Bruce Chen 1, Julio Manon 4
Game Information
Attendance - 23005
Game Time - 3:05
Temperature - 85
Umpires - Home - Phil Cuzzi, First Base - Chuck Meriwether, Second Base - Jerry Crawford, Third Base - Brian O'Nora