BALTIMORE –- For the second straight night, the Orioles suffered a painful one-run defeat.
Chis Tillman had a one-run lead entering the seventh, but he allowed two runs and the Minnesota Twins beat the Orioles 3-2 on Saturday night before 35,301 at Oriole Park.
Minnesota (62-61) has won the first three games of this four-game series, by 13 runs the first night, and one in the other two.
“They're pitching well and we're not particularly grouping a whole lot together. It's a bad combination,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Tillman (9-8) lost for the first time since May 31, and is winless in six lifetime starts against the Twins.
The Twins played little ball to scratch out two runs in the seventh while the Orioles (62-60) fell to 17-21 in one-run games.
“It’s a good lineup. They do the small things that win ballgames. I feel like they’ve bunted four, five, six times in the last two games. They’re willing to take the out to advance them. They’re doing it at the right times,” Tillman said.
Steve Clevenger singled with one out in the second and scored on Henry Urrutia’s double off Kyle Gibson.
After Brian Dozier walked and Joe Mauer singled with one out in the first, Tillman retired 14 straight.
“For the most, my pitches, all of them were there for me throughout, and I didn’t have a spot where I didn’t want to throw a certain pitch, which has kind of been the case in the past, but tonight I felt I had all of them,” Tillman said.
Eduardo Escobar doubled to center beginning the sixth. Byron Buxton sacrificed Escobar to third, and Dozier singled past a drawn-in infield to tie the score at 1.
Chris Davis walked leading off the sixth. Matt Wieters singled, and both advances on Jonathan Schoop’s bunt. Clevenger was walked intentionally, and Davis scored on J.J. Hardy’s sacrifice fly.
Minnesota scored two runs in the seventh off Tillman. Eddie Rosario walked with one out. Torii Hunter singled with Rosario moving to third. Kurt Suzuki’s safety squeeze scored Rosario, and Brad Brach replaced Tillman.
Escobar was walked intentionally, and Buxton’s single to left scored Hunter, and Minnesota led 3-2.
Tillman allowed three runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings.
“We just didn't score many runs. He pitched well enough to win,” Showalter said.
Gibson gave way to Casey Fien, who for the second straight night picked up the win. Fien (4-5) retired the four batters he faced.
Trevor May allowed only an infield single by Clevenger in the eighth while Kevin Jepsen got his eighth save with a scoreless ninth.
In the first three games of the series, Twins relievers have allowed just one hit in 8 1/3 innings.
“They made some good pitches and sometimes we get ourselves out as much as they're getting us out, too,” Showalter said.
In the first six games of this homestand, the Orioles had three game-winning home runs in winning five of six. Now, they must win on Sunday to assure a winning homestand before heading to Kansas City and Texas for seven games.
Minnesota’s bullpen didn’t help
“These guys are throwing the ball real well. It’s tough to watch. For us, the last two, three games, they’re throwing the ball real well, especially out of the bullpen. Late in the game, I feel this team has been good. The way their bullpen’s throwing, it’s been tough,” Tillman said.
The frustration has to be increasing for Orioles hitters.
“Every day somebody else has to come up and pick everybody up. I think we’ve been playing great baseball, great D. We’ve been hitting. We’re just a couple hits away,” Manny Machado said.
“It’s nothing that we should be worried about, just keep our heads on right, keep playing baseball. There’s a lot of games left to be played. We’re not worried about this. We’ve got to stay strong, stay where we need to be and stay on the right path.”
Over the last two seasons, the Twins have won seven straight against the Orioles.
“I don't know if there's frustration. You know how good the competition and you know how good you have to be. It's not like you just throw your gloves and balls out there and things happen. You've got to make them happen between the lines. There's a fine line as you've seen the last two nights between those two things. It can turn very quickly. But the last three games have been frustrating for us, especially the last two. But we've got an opportunity very shortly tomorrow,” Showalter said.
NOTES: Rosario had gone 73 at-bats between walks and struck out 21 times. … Mike Pelfrey (6-7, 3.62) faces Kevin Gausman (2-5, 4.48) on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. … Showalter said that he’ll probably give J.J. Hardy Sunday off.
MORE ORIOLES: Monitoring Hardy is serious Orioles business