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Twins capitalize on error, drop Birds

Orioles' Adam Jones follows through on a two-run single against the Twins in the fifth inning of a game on Saturday in Baltimore.
Orioles' Adam Jones follows through on a two-run single against the Twins in the fifth inning of a game on Saturday in Baltimore. (Gail Burton, Carroll County Times)

BALTIMORE - Chris Davis had been winning games with his power hitting over the first four games of the Baltimore Orioles' season. On Saturday, it wasn't his bat that had the game-changing impact.

It was his glove. And unlike his home runs in previous days, his fielding was nowhere near as positive.

Davis made a defensive blunder with one out in the ninth inning, allowing the game-winning run to reach base, as the Orioles fell to the Minnesota Twins 6-5 before 40,704. Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks hit a ground ball to Davis, but it went straight between the first baseman's legs.

"My glove was down, my head was down. The ball just went right between my legs," Davis said. "I'll wear it on that one."

Baltimore closer Jim Johnson, who entered a 5-5 game in the top of the ninth, struck out the next batter, Joe Mauer, which would have ended the inning had Davis made the play.

Davis did not. Josh Willingham drew a four-pitch walk. And Justin Morneau hit a single up the middle of the diamond scoring Hicks from second.

Johnson (0-1) was all but perfect in the 2012 season while leading the major leagues with 51 saves. It was also unusual for Johnson to give the other team the lead last season, but that was the case on Saturday.

"It's not a perfect world," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He came into a big part of their order and did a good job. He just should've been in the dugout."

Starting pitcher Chris Tillman's debut last season was a gem in Seattle, where he gave up two unearned runs on two hits in 8 1-3 innings. This season, he did not have as good of a season debut.

The right-hander labored through 3 2-3 innings, surrendering five runs on seven hits, and throwing 93 pitches despite not even making it out of the fourth inning. He struck out four, but also walked four.

"All game long I was kind of yanking my fastball, my changeup," Tillman said. "Made some good pitches with my changeup, just to the wrong part of the plate."

Showalter said he thought Tillman had good stuff despite the poor outing.

"He had a really good first inning, just command was a little off," Showalter said.

Tillman was relieved by Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland, who made his major league debut. McFarland was superb, pitching 3 1-3 innings, giving up no runs and just one hit, a single to Chris Parmelee.

The left-hander had five strikeouts, which included a stretch of four straight spanning the sixth and seventh.

"I was able to work through it and calm myself down," McFarland said. "You pitch a lot more comfortably when you have a defense like that behind you."

The Orioles (3-2) struck first with a pair of runs in the first inning. A Nick Markakis double to left moved Manny Machado to third, giving Baltimore two runners in scoring position with one out.

Adam Jones delivered, hitting a slow roller down the third-base line and easily beat the throw to first while Machado scored. Twins pitcher Vance Worley's throw to first was not a good one, however, as the ball got past Justin Morneau and Markakis scored giving the Orioles an early 2-0 lead.

Over the next two innings, the Twins (3-2) fought back, and eventually took a 5-2 lead. Minnesota never trailed the rest of the game. Twins reliever Josh Roenicke, son of former Oriole Gary Roenicke, picked up the win throwing three one-hit, shutout innings.

The Orioles tied the game in the fifth. Nate McLouth, Machado, and Markakis all hit singles to load the bases leading off the inning. Jones then drilled a single up the middle which scored McLouth and Machado.

Baltimore got good production from the top third of their order. Machado reached base three times and scored all three, and Markakis went 4 for 5 with a pair of doubles.

Davis may not have able to keep his streak of home runs in a regular-season game alive as it ended at 11, but he did have an RBI single in the third. He is one game shy of the team record of six straight games with an RBI to start a season held by Mike Devereaux (1999) and Brooks Robinson (1966).

Davis said it's nice to be hitting well, and he thinks the rest of the team's game will begin to start coming around as well.

"I think it's big early on to swing the bats collectively as a team," Davis said. "The defense, bullpen, everything, it's going to come together. It's part of the game."

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