Adam Jones' two-run single in ninth lifts Orioles past Twins

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Adam Jones #10 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a two-run single against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning of the game on May 10, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Orioles defeated the Twins 5-3.

MINNEAPOLIS — The fact that the Minnesota Twins opted to pitch around Manny Machado to face Adam Jones with two outs in the ninth inning and the game on the line Tuesday had something to do with Machado's scalding bat, but it also showed just how deep Jones' season-long struggles at the plate had become.

Forget that the Orioles center fielder had already blasted a solo homer into the second deck earlier in the game — a sign his bat was starting to come around. The Twins were challenging the slumping Jones to beat them.


Jones made Minnesota pay. He worked a full count before lacing a two-run single into left field off Twins closer Kevin Jepsen. That sent the Orioles to their third straight win, 5-3, in front of an announced 21,586 at Target Field.

Jones, who drove in a season-high three runs Tuesday, had not homered in more than three weeks when he came up in the fifth inning. He had just three hits over his previous 27 at-bats before launching a hanging, 0-1 curveball from Jose Berrios an estimated 443 feet into the second deck for his second homer of the season and his first since April 16 in Texas.


"As good as Manny's swinging, when you get a little 'ooh and ahh' out of Manny, that's a lot of frustration out in one swing pent up," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I'll tell you that."

Jones' solo homer followed Machado's team-high 10th home run of the season.

The Orioles' ninth-inning rally started with two outs when leadoff man Joey Rickard battled back from down 0-2 to lace a double down the left-field line. Jepsen fell behind Machado 2-0 and then issued an intentional walk to him with first base open to bring Jones to the plate. Both baserunners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, setting up Jones' game-winning hit.

Right-hander Kevin Gausman had been splendid since returning from a season-opening stint on the disabled list, and on Tuesday, he was mostly dominant.

But for Gausman, the difference between earning his first win of the season and his third no-decision in four starts was one pitch. Gausman held the Twins to one run on three hits through his first five innings, until Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe jumped on a 2-1 elevated slider and sent it into the second deck of the left field stands for a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth inning.

"Obviously, I was upset after the home run," Gausman said. "Anytime you're cruising and your last inning one of the worst pitches you threw all day gets hit out of the park to tie the ballgame, it's definitely frustrating. But after just kind of sitting in here, it's a quality start. And as a starting pitcher, that's really your main focus. In the back of my head I always try to think 'Go nine innings,' but to give your team a chance to win, a quality start is really all you need to do."

Gausman records third straight quality start

Despite the no decision, Gausman still recorded his third straight quality start, posting a 2.25 ERA over that span.


Gausman struck out a season-high nine batters — including five in a six-batter stretch in the early innings.

Plouffe's leadoff double in the fourth was the first hit Gausman allowed since the first inning, but he worked his worked his way out of that inning by inducing back-to-back groundouts from Miguel Sano and Byung Ho Park and then striking out Oswaldo Arcia to end the inning.

"I felt really good with everything," Gausman said. "Left some curveballs up early in the game, but as the game went on, my stuff got better and I think I got more comfortable."

In Gausman's only previous start at Target Field last July 7, he didn't get out of the fourth inning, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits.

"This is only my second start here and last year's wasn't very pretty, so any time you get in trouble in the first inning and you kind of have a history in this ballpark, it's tough to put it behind you," Gausman said. "But more than anything, that's what I'm proud of, being able to go back out there and throw strikes. I walked two guys but I was around the plate the whole game. Just tried to be more efficient."

Brach on lockdown


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With the game tied at 3 in the seventh, right-handed reliever Brad Brach stranded the go-ahead run on second base.

Brach allowed a one-out single to Danny Santana, who quickly stole second base. But Brach regrouped, striking out Joe Mauer on four pitches by getting him swinging on a 95 mph fastball, and then striking out Eduardo Nunez on five pitches, ending that at-bat with a 96 mph fastball.

Thirteen of Brach's 15 outings this season have been scoreless and Brach's scoreless seventh inning lowered his season ERA to 1.00.

The Orioles bullpen threw three scoreless innings. Darren O'Day pitched a scoreless eighth, and Zach Britton recorded his eighth save with perfect ninth inning.

"Our pitching staff made it, they're the ones, we were following their lead," Jones said when asked about his night at the plate. "Gausman went out there and battled his tail off and Brach, O'Day and Britton. It's not about me, man. It's about this team. It's about winning collectively and however you do it is however you do it."