Scott Erickson usually uses his sinker to induce groundballs. On this night, the Minnesota Twins had difficulty even putting the ball in play.
Harold Baines drove in two runs for the Orioles, who moved within 6½ games of Boston in the AL wild-card chase. Baltimore trailed by 15½ games at the All-Star break, but its 28-8 record since that time is the best in the majors.
Erickson (13-9) gave up seven hits, walked one and hit a batter. The only other time he struck out 10 was in 1994, against the Orioles when he was with the Twins.
"That was obviously a big, strong effort by Scotty," Orioles manager Ray Miller said. "Ten big punchouts in seven innings, that's pretty good."
Erickson leads the AL in groundball-to-flyball ratio, but the right-hander benefited from only one double-play grounder. He struck out at least one batter in every inning except the sixth.
"I guess I threw the right pitch at the right time," Erickson said. "I got them not looking for whatever I threw at a certain time."
Jimmy Key pitched a perfect eighth and Armando Benitez got three outs for his 18th save. Benitez needed only eight pitches to retire the side in order.
The Orioles managed only three singles through four innings against LaTroy Hawkins (7-12) and trailed -0 before scoring three runs in the fifth. Mike Bordick and Roberto Alomar singled, and Brady Anderson walked to load the bases for Baines, who lined a two-run single up the middle.
"I didn't want to hit his pitch," Baines said. "I got a ball on the inner half that I could hit up the middle."
Rafael Palmeiro followed with a sacrifice fly, his 105th RBI of the season.
Hawkins allowed three runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings. He is 0-3 in four starts since July 26.
"I pitched on a night when Erickson had the sinker going and he punched out 10 guys," Hawkins said. "He had the slider going, too. He's tough."
Minnesota put runners at first and third with one out in the sixth before Erickson coaxed Todd Walker to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. The Twins got a run in the seventh on a groundout by Javier Valentin, but Erickson struck out Brent Gates with two outs and runners on second and third.
Successive doubles by leadoff hitter Otis Nixon and Gates gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the first. Hawkins made the lead stand up until the fifth inning, when the Orioles finally solved the right-hander.
"It's pretty much like facing the Yankees -- they make you throw good pitches," Hawkins said. "You're not going to strike out many of their guys because they have a lot of professional hitters over there."
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