MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Miguel Gonzalez was dominant in the first four innings. Then, he suddenly lost control.
The Baltimore starter walked four batters in a bumpy fifth and was pulled, and the Minnesota Twins went on to beat the Orioles 5-2 Sunday.
“I don’t think that’s ever happened in my career,” Gonzalez said.
What has happened a bunch this season for Gonzalez and the rest of the Baltimore starting rotation is not getting deep into games.
“It’s tough. We want them to be fresh. We try to go as deep as we can. It hasn’t been working out for me. It’ll come. Just got to stay working hard, just minimize damage and throw strikes when I need to,” Gonzalez said.
In his six starts, Gonzalez has gotten into the sixth inning twice and has not pitched in the seventh inning. Through 29 games, Baltimore starters have reached the sixth 12 times and the seventh five times.
“It’s been a challenge for us, trying to protect our bullpen pieces,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Fortunately, we have a day off.”
The Orioles head to Tampa Bay for a three-game midweek series that starts Tuesday.
“We got to be better, we got to figure it out,” Showalter said. “They’re capable.”
Baltimore was frustrated at the plate by Twins starter Phil Hughes, who won his third straight. He allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings, walking none and striking out three.
Trevor Plouffe and Kurt Suzuki hit two-run doubles for the Twins, who have won two consecutive games after dropping four in a row.
Twins first baseman Joe Mauer left in the top of the third inning with lower-back spasms. He’s considered day to day.
After giving up a single to Nick Markakis to start the game, Hughes (3-1) retired the next 14 batters.
Nelson Cruz broke up Hughes’ shutout bid with two outs in the sixth, hitting a two-run shot into the upper deck at Target Field for his ninth homer of the season.
Glen Perkins pitched a scoreless ninth for his seventh save in eight chances this year.
Plouffe hit a two-run double in the third. In the fifth, Gonzalez walked the bases full with two outs, then walked Kurt Suzuki to force home a run.
Reliever Troy Patton bailed him out of the jam by retiring Sam Fuld.
The Twins tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh against reliever Ryan Webb. Chris Colabello hit a one-out double, Jason Kubel walked and Suzuki hit a double to left that scored both runners.
Kubel slid home just ahead of catcher Matt Wieters’ tag, a call that was confirmed via an instant-replay challenge.
NOTES: The Orioles will start RHP Chris Tillman (3-1, 3.68) on Tuesday when they open a three-game set at Tampa Bay.