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Mixed Up Twins Top Orioles

The slumping Minnesota Twins needed to mix it up. Especially against Mike Mussina.

Manager Tom Kelly sat three regulars and moved Pat Meares up to fifth in the lineup as Minnesota beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 Sunday, snapping a seven-game losing streak.

Meares, normally the No. 9 hitter, responded by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs as Minnesota snapped the Orioles' five-game winning streak by beating nemesis Mike Mussina, who was 12-1 against Minnesota before the game.

"The way things have been going, why not?" Kelly said of his changes. "Why not do something different?"

Meares, who has batted everywhere in the lineup this season, raised his career batting average against Mussina to .417 (10-for-24).

"That's a little extreme," Mussina said of Meares' success against him.

So what's the secret?

"I have no idea," said Meares, who could only explain his position in the batting order as being the logical place, since Marty Cordova, Ron Coomer and Matt Lawton were given the day off.

"I've been just about everywhere (in the lineup)," Meares said. "Seems like I've had just as many opportunities, RBI-wise, in the nine hole than I do anywhere. I just tried to stay aggressive."

The Twins also got a strong starting performance by Dan Serafini, three days after the left-hander was bombed for five runs in less than three innings.

Serafini (5-4) gave up two runs on seven hits, striking out two and walking one in six innings.

Baltimore's B.J. Surhoff hit his 16th homer, a two-run shot in the eighth off Eddie Guardado to cut the deficit to 5-4 after the Twins had taken a 5-2 lead on Meares' two-run double in the seventh.

Rick Aguilera pitched the ninth for his 28th save, stranding two runners when Eric Davis flied out to right for the final out. Davis had an infield hit in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to 25 games, the longest in Baltimore history.

Mussina (10-6) gave up five runs on 12 hits in seven innings, struck out 11 and walked three. It was the most hits Mussina has given up this season, and tied his season high for strikeouts, set March 31 against Kansas City.

Otis Nixon had four hits and two stolen bases for the Twins.

"It would have been a good win for us, to keep it going," Baltimore manager Ray Miller said. Despite the loss, the Orioles are 22-5 since the All-Star break.

The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the first on Brent Gates' RBI single.

Baltimore tied it in the fifth on Roberto Alomar's 11th homer, which extended the Orioles' franchise-record homer streak to 20 games.

The Orioles added a run in the sixth on Surhoff's RBI single.

Minnesota took a 3-2 lead in the bottom half of the inning. Gates scored on Mussina's second ild pitch of the inning, and Terry Steinbach had a two-out RBI single.

Notes:

  • Nixon had his third four-hit game of the season.
  • Mussina now has 15 games in his career with at least 10 strikeouts. He's done it four times in 1998.
  • Baltimore pinch-hitter Harold Baines struck out looking in the ninth, dropped his bat and walked away from the plate. Baines and Orioles manager Ray Miller were thrown out by plate umpire Marty Foster.
  • Eric Milton, Minnesota's scheduled starter, had his start moved back to Tuesday because of inflammation in his left shoulder.

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