Mora's homer leads O's by Twins

His eighth-inning blast breaks tie in 3-1 victory

Johnson earns 4th win

August 16, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins are playoff-bound and their stadium is still one of the loudest in baseball, but the Orioles turned things very quiet in the late innings of last nights game.

Jason Johnson pitched seven strong innings, and Melvin Mora broke an eighth-inning tie with his 16th home run, as the Orioles took yet another series from the Twins with a 3-1 victory before 20,471 at the Metrodome.

Chris Singleton also hit a home run for the Orioles, who took two of three this week to claim the series against the Twins, 5-1. Against the first-place teams in the American League, the Orioles are now 16-11.

The Orioles completed their road trip to Detroit and Minnesota with a 3-3 record, and theyll return home tonight to face the Tigers again.

Johnson (4-9) held the Twins to one run on six hits, walking one and striking out five on 90 pitches. It was the 10th time in his 15 starts this season that the Orioles have failed to score more than three runs, but this time he came away with his first victory since June 29, a span of six starts.

Mora, who had 15 home runs for his career coming into the season, turned on a 2-1 fastball from Twins starter Kyle Lohse, and it traveled an estimated 370 feet into the left-field seats.

Lohse (10-7), a baby-faced right-hander who could wind up leading the Twins injury- plagued rotation in innings pitched this season, took the kind of hard-luck loss that Johnson has grown accustomed to this season. Lohse allowed two runs on four hits in seven-plus innings.

Both teams had exhausted large chunks of their bullpens in Wednesday nights marathon, which the Orioles eventually won, 6-5, on Geronimo Gils 14th-inning home runM-5. The Orioles were in a tough spot because Johnson was making just his second start since coming off the disabled list.

Mike Hargrove held Johnson to 72 pitches last Friday in Detroit, pulling Johnson after he allowed just one run in five innings. Johnson took the loss in that game, saying it felt like the story of his season.

This time, Johnson breezed through the first four innings on just 38 pitches, consistently mixing a 93-mph fastball with his sharp-breaking curve. Corey Koskie hit a two-out double in the first, but Johnson fanned David Ortiz with a nasty 84-mph curve, down and in.

Ortiz waved at the same pitch to end the fourth inning, right after Johnson had set him up with a 93-mph fastball just off the outside corner.

The Orioles turned three double plays behind Johnson, extending their AL-leading total to 131.

After falling behind No. 9 hitter Tom Prince, 2-0, and yielding a single, Johnson came right back and got Luis Rivas to ground into a double play, starting it himself after fielding the comebacker. Johnson started the same 1-6-3 double play the next inning, after Cristian Guzman started the inning with a broken-bat infield single.

With Gold Glove candidates all around the field, the Twins are regulars on the highlight shows, and they made a couple more last night. First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz robbed Jeff Conine of a hit with a diving stop in the fourth inning, and left field Dustan Mohr made a sliding catch in foul territory, to end the fifth inning.

This seemed to spark the Twins as Torii Hunter led off the next inning with a double to right field, going the opposite way on a outside fastball. After battling Johnson to a full count, Mientkiewicz followed with a textbook groundout to first. After Johnson hit Bobby Kielty, Mohr hit a run-scoring single through the hole between shortstop and third.

Johnsons shoulders sagged, as the tying run crossed the plate, but he then got Prince to ground into an inning-ending double play.

The Twins threatened in the sixth, when Rivas drew a four-pitch walk and Guzman followed with a single. But Johnson settled down, striking out Koskie, and jamming Ortiz on a pop-up to short. With two outs, Hunter ripped a high fastball deep to right, but Jay Gibbons caught it on the warning track.

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