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Orioles highlights: Miguel Gonzalez struggles badly in 14-5 loss to Twins

Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez struggled badly in his third Grapefruit League start on Sunday, allowing six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings on the way to a 14-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium.

Staked to a three-run lead in the first inning, Gonzalez faced seven batters and allowed two runs in the bottom half of the inning, then gave up four runs in the second. Three of the second-inning runs came on a long home run by Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who finished with four RBIs.

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It's still early, but it's not as early as it was when he gave up seven earned runs in the Orioles' second exhibition game. The club came into spring training with some significant concerns about the depth and durability of the starting rotation, and the ability of Gonzalez to bounce back from an injury-marred 2015 season is one of them.

"We all know that this game is all about mental and momentum," Gonzalez said. "As soon as I got the first guy out, I felt pretty good. Things are not going my way right now, and all I've got to do is just keep working hard and don't get down. Keep my head up, and hopefully next time out, I'll be all right."

The Twins hit for the cycle in that second inning. John Ryan Murphy led off with a single, Byron Buxton followed with a double, Brian Dozier walked, Joe Mauer drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, Plouffe homered, and Eddie Rosario tripled before Gonzalez was replaced by minor league pitcher Richard Rodriguez.

The Orioles also didn't waste any time figuring out Twins starter Ricky Nolasco. Joey Rickard led off the game with an infield hit, and Christian Walker delivered a one-out single before Pedro Alvarez hammered a ball off the right-center-field fence for an RBI double. Jonathan Schoop followed with a single, and Hyun Soo Kim hit a sacrifice fly for the Orioles' third run.

It was a tough day almost all around for the Orioles pitching staff, but fifth-starter candidate Vance Worley was the exception, pitching two perfect innings. He has pitched six innings this spring and given up three runs.

The other Alvarez: Right fielder Dariel Alvarez tried to help Gonzalez out of the first inning. He fielded Rosario's RBI single and threw a long strike to third base to retire Plouffe, trying to go from first to third. Alvarez is known to have a plus arm, and he showed it there.

"That's impressive, impressive to watch," Gonzalez said. "Guys are busting very hard to make plays, and that's what we're all about."

Walker has a day:  First base prospect Christian Walker continues to have a productive spring. He homered, singled and scored two runs Sunday. His six runs scored and eight RBIs rank among the Grapefruit League leaders.

Kim heating up:  It has been a long spring for Kim, who started his Grapefruit League season by going hitless in his first 23 at-bats. Since then, however, he has slowly started to warm up at the plate. His first two hits were infield singles, but he hit a sharp bouncer through the infield in his third plate appearance Sunday and also had the sacrifice fly in the first inning.

He now has singled in three of his past six plate appearances and driven in two runs.

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