Miguel Gonzalez with early exit, O’s offense comes up short as Twins take finale

The Orioles got their weekend series in Minnesota off to an uplifting start with a shutout win behind Ubaldo Jimenez as they moved into first place on Friday night. But their offense never did get going in the series and they lost 5-2 this afternoon as they dropped the final two games at Target Field.

The Orioles scored just six runs on 24 hits and went 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position in this series.

Nelson Cruz blasted another two-run homer to left and that pulled the O’s to within 3-2 in the sixth. But Nick Markakis grounded out as the O’s left the bases loaded an inning later down by one run.

Cruz leads the American League with 23 road RBIs and now has nine homers and 29 RBIs for the year. Over his last 15 games, Cruz has seven homers, 22 RBIs and eight multi-RBI games.

The day got off to a good start for Miguel Gonzalez, but didn’t end well. He walked four batters in the fifth, including one with the bases loaded, as Minnesota went ahead 3-0.

Gonzalez went 4 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and three runs with four walks and seven strikeouts. He takes the loss and is 1-3 with an ERA of 5.28.

Orioles starting pitchers have gone 5 1/3 innings or less in four of the last five games. They began the day tied for the fewest quality starts in the majors with nine.

Meanwhile, Minnesota starting pitchers began this series with an ERA of 6.04. But over the three games, they allowed just six runs in 22 1/3 innings for an ERA of 2.25. Phil Hughes got the win today, allowing two runs over 6 1/3 innings.

Markakis did extend his hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning single, but there were few other offensive highlights as the Orioles scored just one run over 17 innings before Cruz’s homer.

With the Yankees’ loss today, the O’s could have moved back into first place with a win. Instead they move on to Florida with a 15-14 record to open a three-game series Tuesday night against Tampa Bay.

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