MINNEAPOLIS -- Since joining the Orioles 10 days ago, Todd Frohwirth has been as close to perfect as possible.
The righthanded reliever made his sixth appearance last night, retiring all five batters he faced -- moving him to within four outs of a "relief no-hitter."
Had it not been for a passed ball by Chris Hoiles on a strikeout last Saturday in Boston, Frohwirth would be within three outs of the equivalent of a perfect game, scattered over his six appearances. Steve Lyons, who reached via the strikeout-passed ball, is the only one of 24 hitters to reach base against Frohwirth.
* CAL CONTINUES TO RIP: Here's the oddity of the week: Cal Ripken went 2-for-4 last night -- and his average against the Twins dropped 52 points.
On the heels of two straight three-hit games, Rip was hitting .667 against Minnesota going into the game and he came out with a .615 average for the three-game series.
Although he popped out in the midst of the Orioles' only real threat last night, when they scored a run in the sixth inning, Ripken had a pair of singles and had a 400-foot drive caught on the warning track in centerfield. He increased his league-leading batting average to .362, the highest average by an Oriole this late in the season in club history.
Ripken is the first Oriole to be leading the league in hitting this late since Ken Singleton had a .337 average on Aug. 25, 1981. He is now hitting .400 on the road (44-for-110).
Last night was Ripken's fourth straight multi-hit game and his major league-leading 24th of the season, just three fewer than he had all last year.
* ONE-RUN LOSSES MOUNT: The Orioles are now 6-15 in games decided by two runs or less. The three straight one-run setbacks to the Twins left them with a 4-11 record in that category.
The Orioles have the fewest one-run victories in the majors.
* THIS 'N THAT: When Randy Milligan and David Segui homered in the ninth inning last night it was the fourth time this year the Orioles hit back-to-back home runs. Both came off Twins reliever Rick Aguilera, who had not given up a home run since last Sept. 5, a span of 25 games.
Kevin Tapani (3-6) broke a six-game losing streak by pitching 7 2/3 innings as the Twins won their fifth straight and eighth in their last nine.
Catcher Lenny Webster was hitting barely over .200 and had only one home run for Triple A Portland before being recalled by the Twins to replace Junior Ortiz, who is on the disabled list. In two games with the Twins, Webster has hit two home runs, including a two-run shot that broke a scoreless tie last night.
Mike Devereaux, Milligan and Ripken each had two of the Orioles' nine hits last night -- seven singles and a pair of solo home runs.