MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Orsulak likes to play the ordinary guy, though there is nothing ordinary about the way he swings a baseball bat.
Last week, he came within a game of the club record with his 21-game hitting streak. Last night, he had a career-high five hits, as the Baltimore Orioles pounded the Minnesota Twins, 11-5, at the Metrodome.
Orsulak had four singles, a double and a walk in six plate appearances to lead a 17-hit Orioles attack. He also made the key defensive play, defusing a potential big inning early in the game with his major-league-leading 14th outfield assist. Nothing ordinary about that, either.
But when he sauntered into the Orioles clubhouse after the game, he wondered aloud what all the commotion was about.
"You get five hits, you've got to be lucky," he said. "I didn't crush the ball."
Nothing to it. The guy has hit safely in 23 of his past 24 games. He's batting .389 in his past 28. He has thrown out more runners from the outfield than any other player in the major leagues. Then he says the equivalent of "Aw, shucks" and fades back into the background.
Not that it was a one-man show. Cal Ripken drove in four runs and Chris Hoiles had four hits, as the Orioles staked starting pitcher Bob Milacki to a 10-run lead by the bottom of the fifth inning.
Milacki didn't exactly overpower the Twins, who ran up 11 hits during his 6 2/3 innings on the mound, but he didn't have to. The Orioles pounded three Minnesota pitchers and played an impressive defensive game to break a three-game losing streak.
Among the other highlights:
* Ripken's four RBI -- on two doubles and a sacrifice fly -- raised his season total to 87. He's on pace to finish the season with 110, which would match a career high set in 1985.
* Hoiles had four singles in five at-bats to raise his average to .259 in his first career four-hit performance.
* Five Orioles players had at least two hits by the time the first out was recorded in the fifth inning.
* Third baseman Leo Gomez hit his 12th home run of the year, a mammoth shot that landed more than halfway into the bleachers behind left field. He leads American League rookies in homers with 12.
"That's the best we've swung the bat in a long time," manager John Oates said. "I think we had more hits tonight than we had in the whole Toronto series."
The Orioles took two out of three games from the Twins last week at Memorial Stadium, but they were swept in a three-game series the last time they visited this Plexiglas palace. The Metrodome has given more than one team an edifice complex, so it wouldn't have surprised anyone if the Dome domination had continued last night.
But Twins starter Tom Edens, who was making only his second start since joining the rotation, gave up five hits and two walks in just 1 1/3 innings, as the Orioles took an early five-run lead.
Ripken drove a one-out RBI double up the alley in right-center to get the Orioles on the board in the first inning and also delivered the biggest swing in the four-run second inning that broke the game open.
Edens gave up back-to-back singles to Gomez and Hoiles to open the second and surrendered a run-scoring double to Mike Devereaux. Orsulak walked to load the bases and Ripken pulled a two-run double down the left-field line.
Ripken had gone hitless in his previous two games, but he rebounded with his 55th multiple-hit performance and remained ahead of schedule for his second career 200-hit season.
His second double knocked Edens out of the game, but the Orioles were not through. Glenn Davis greeted reliever Carl Willis with a long sacrifice fly to increase the Baltimore lead to five.
The Twins tried to stage a comeback in the bottom of the second, but the big defensive play by Orsulak may have prevented a big inning.
Orsulak ranged far to his right to cut off an apparent double by Brian Harper and made a perfect one-hop throw to cut him down at second base. It was Orsulak's 14th outfield assist, the most by an Oriole since Paul Blair had 14 in 1973.
"You know what's funny," Oates said. "There were something like 32 hits in the game and what I remember most were two defensive plays. Slack in the second inning and Billy [Ripken] throwing out [Al] Newman to keep their big guys from coming up in the eighth."
The Orioles assault resumed in the fourth, when Orsulak brought home a run with a double and Randy Milligan made it 7-0 with a two-out single. Gomez added a mammoth home run in the fifth as the Metrodome crowd began to get surly.
The Twins usually do the bashing around here, as evidenced by the 39-23 home record they brought into the game. The fans took out their frustrations on left-hander Allan Anderson, who was left in the game to take a beating after Edens and Willis failed to get the club out of the early innings.