BALTIMORE (AP) — Joe Mauer drove in four runs, Phil Hughes held Baltimore without an earned run over eight innings and the Minnesota Twins beat the Orioles 6-4 Monday to avoid a four-game sweep.
Nelson Cruz hit his major-league leading 36th home run and Nick Hundley had a three-run shot for the AL East-leading Orioles, who lost for only the second time in eight games.
Mauer tripled in two runs in the sixth inning and added a two-run single in the eighth to put Minnesota ahead for good.
Hughes (15-9) gave up five hits, no walks and three unearned runs. The right-hander has allowed one earned run or fewer in five of his last six starts.
After going 4-14 for the Yankees last year, Hughes has accounted for 25 percent of Minnesota’s 60 wins.
Glen Perkins gave up a leadoff homer to Cruz in the ninth before getting three straight outs for his 33rd save.
Hughes and Orioles rookie Kevin Gausman (7-8) matched zeroes until the sixth inning, when the Twins took a 3-0 lead.
Danny Santana and Brian Dozier hit one-out singles before Mauer hit an opposite-field liner to left that bounced off the wall toward center. Mauer ended up with his second triple of the season, and Kennys Vargas followed with a sacrifice fly.
In the seventh, a single and a throwing error by third baseman Trevor Plouffe preceded Hundley’s two-out drive into the left-field seats.
The deadlock didn’t last long. Gausman gave up a leadoff walk in the eighth, and an error by third baseman Jimmy Paredes put runners on second and third with no outs. Mauer singled off Andrew Miller, took second on the throw to the plate and scored on a single by Vargas.
Gausman allowed five hits and four earned runs in a career-high 7 1-3 innings, losing his third straight start.
Twins: C Kurt Suzuki, who sat out Sunday’s game after taking a foul tip in the chin on Saturday night, returned to the starting lineup.
Orioles: 1B Steve Pearce missed a third straight game with an abdominal strain, but manager Buck Showalter said Pearce is improving and should be back in a day or two. Also, SS J.J. Hardy was pulled after the seventh inning with back spasms.
Twins: The Twins return home to face the White Sox on Tuesday night. Minnesota starter Tommy Milone is 1-0 with an 0.86 ERA against Chicago.
Orioles: Baltimore opens a three-game interleague series against visiting Cincinnati. The Orioles haven’t lost two in a row at home since June 28-29.