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Updated: April 7th, 2012 8:59pm
Second loss to O's 'not indicative of how well' Twins played in March

Second loss to O's 'not indicative of how well' Twins played in March

by The Associated Press
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BALTIMORE - It's too early for Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire to panic over his team's slow start.

He's not going to casually brush it aside, either.

The Twins offered little resistance Saturday night in an 8-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, who took a six-run lead against Francisco Liriano after four innings and coasted to the finish.

The defeat, combined with a 4-2 setback in the opener, left Minnesota winless and looking for answers after going 18-15-1 record in spring training.

"These first two games are not indicative of how well we played in the spring," Gardenhire said. "Once you start the season it's different, and we have to kick it into gear."

The skinny

By the time the Twins scored twice in the eighth, the outcome was decided. Minnesota went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position after going 0 for 4 in those situations in the opener.

"We had some good swings. We hit the ball hard, but right at people," said third baseman Danny Valencia, who stranded four runners.

"It's early in the season and everybody wants to get off to a good start, everybody wants to get the hit to start a rally," he said. "I left a lot of guys on base tonight so I killed the rallies."

Tommy Hunter allowed two runs, none earned, over seven-plus innings for Baltimore. He gave up six hits, struck out three and walked one.

It was the perfect encore to the opening day outing of Jake Arrieta, who pitched seven scoreless innings in a 4-2 win. For the first time since 2001, Baltimore opened with the season with successive starts of seven innings or more.

Not bad for a team that last year finished with the worst ERA in the majors.

"You see us getting deeper in the game with our starting pitching, we'll have some fun this year," manager Buck Showalter said. "It's two out of 162, but it's a good way to start."

Nick Markakis hit his second homer in two games, and Adam Jones and Matt Wieters also connected for the Orioles. In addition, Ronny Paulino had four hits in his Baltimore debut and Robert Andino had two hits and two RBIs.

The Orioles, who will seek to complete a three-game sweep on Sunday, have won six straight over Minnesota by a combined score of 36-8.

Hunter (1-0) was in control until the eighth, when the Twins used an error and two singles to load the bases with no outs. Pedro Strop then yielded run-scoring grounders to Jamey Carroll and Joe Mauer.

Liriano (0-1) allowed six runs and eight hits in four innings.

Turning point

Liriano struck out the side in the first, but Jones hit an opposite-field drive leading off the second and Baltimore added two runs in third.

Paulino singled and scored when Josh Willingham misplayed Andino's single to left. Nolan Reimold followed with an infield hit and Andino came home on a double-play grounder.

The Orioles made it 6-0 in the third. A walk to Mark Reynolds and a double by Paulino preceded a two-run single by Andino and an RBI single by Reimold.

Markakis and Wieters hit solo shots off Jared Burton in the seventh.

Numbers game

2: Errors made by Willingham.

6: Consecutive wins by the Orioles over the Twins by a combined score of 36-8.

Health report

An MRI on Scott Baker's right elbow showed no significant damage, but he will visit Dr. David Altcheck for a second opinion. He has been shut down indefinitely.

Liam Hendriks was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday due to food poisoning.

On deck

Sunday: @ Orioles, 12:35 p.m. RHP Anthony Swarzak (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Jason Hammel (0-0, 0.00).
Monday: vs. Angels, 3:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (0-0, 0.00) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (0-0, 0.00).

© The Associated Press