BALTIMORE (AP) — Jim Thome hit his 591st career home run and had two RBIs to back a dominating pitching performance by Scott Baker, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 Thursday night to salvage a split of the four-game series.
Michael Cuddyer also connected for the last-place Twins, who came in with a major league-low six home runs in 18 games.
Baker (1-2) allowed four hits over seven scoreless innings, striking out nine and walking one. He is 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA in eight career starts against Baltimore.
Thome hit a solo home run in the second inning and added an RBI single in the sixth. The 40-year-old slugger began the night with a .163 batting average and five RBIs.
Thome needs 19 more homers to tie Sammy Sosa for seventh place on the lifetime list.
Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie (1-3) gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out four, walked none and lowered his ERA to 3.12.
Unfortunately for Guthrie, Baker was even better. Baltimore got only three runners to second base against the right-hander and none of them made it to third.
After the Orioles scored a run against the Twins bullpen in the eighth, Matt Capps, the fourth Minnesota reliever, got three outs for his third save.
Baltimore put a runner at second base in three of the first five innings, but couldn’t capitalize. Nick Markakis twice made the final out with runners at first and second.
Minnesota went up 2-0 in the sixth. Alexi Casilla hit a leadoff single, advanced when Cuddyer was hit by a pitch and scored on Thome’s single to center.
Cuddyer homered in the eighth off Mike Gonzalez. It was his second in two nights and upped his RBI total for the season to two.
In the bottom half, Vladimir Guerrero singled in a run with two outs before Glen Perkins retired Luke Scott with runners at the corners.
NOTES: The Twins played a fifth straight game without first baseman Justin Morneau (flu) and were also without infielder Delmon Young, who has been out since Monday with the flu and a sore rib. Young intends to get an MRI on Friday to determine the extent of his rib injury. … Baltimore’s Derrek Lee needed an eighth-inning double to lift his batting average over .200. He has one homer and two RBIs. … The Twins has scored only one first-inning run this season. … Thome has four career homers against Guthrie. He has 1,631 career RBIs, five fewer than Ernie Banks, who ranks 28th.
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