<
>

Twins beat O's on Morneau's walk-off HR in 12th

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- With two powerful swings, Justin Morneau led
Minnesota to victory and pulled himself out of a slump.

Morneau's second homer of the game, a 437-foot two-run walkoff
shot with two outs in the 12th inning, gave the Minnesota Twins a
7-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.

"I don't think I could hit it much better than that," Morneau
said. "That was a pretty good feeling, especially after the
roadtrip I had."

Morneau also hit a three-run homer, giving him five RBI for the
game. He was 8-for-35 on the recent 10-game trip, with just one
homer and two RBI.

"It was nice to come home where you feel comfortable," Morneau
said. "And, the celebration at the plate was fun."

"It's good for him to come and pick us up like that," manager
Ron Gardenhire said."

Morneau's game-winner off Bruce Chen (0-6) came on a 2-0 pitch
after Nick Punto singled with two outs. It was Morneau's third
multihomer game this season and the fourth of his career.

"Obviously that was right in his wheelhouse and he didnt miss
it," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said.

Joe Nathan (4-0) pitched two innings for the victory.

Joe Mauer, who leads the majors with a .384 average, was 3-for-5
and now has 12 hits in his last 17 at-bats.

Brandon Fahey and Corey Patterson each had two RBI for the
Orioles, who lost for the first time in 22 games when leading after
seven inning. They also fell to 9-17 on the road.

Baltimore had a great chance to take the lead in the 12th when
Javy Lopez was on third with one out, but he was thrown out at the
plate on a close play trying to score on Jeff Conine's chopper to
third-baseman Terry Tiffee.

"I thought I would be safe easy," Lopez said. "It was a
bang-bang play and an out and it's frustrating."

Trailing 5-3 in the eighth, Minnesota scored twice against
Baltimore relievers to tie the game. Kurt Birkins walked Mauer and
was immediately relieved by former Twins pitcher LaTroy Hawkins.
Hawkins got Torii Hunter to ground out before walking Michael
Cuddyer. Jason Kubel followed with an RBI single and, with two
outs, Tiffee drove in the tying run with a chopper up the middle.

The Twins had a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning before Baltimore
took advantage of two walks and an error to score four runs. With
two on and two outs, Brad Radke walked Lopez and Patterson to make
it 3-2. Conine followed with a grounder off Tiffee's glove,
allowing the tying run to score. Fahey then drove in two runs with
a single off Radke to make it 5-3.

Ramon Hernandez hit a leadoff double in the second just over the
head of center-fielder Hunter, who was frozen by the line drive and
couldn't recover in time to make the play. One out later, Patterson
hit another double off Radke to make it 1-0.

The Twins came back in the fourth, with four straight hits off
Rodrigo Lopez to start the inning, including Morneau's three-run
homer, a 420-foot line drive to dead center that made it 3-1.

"I think we made all the right moves, but things didnt turn out
at the end," Rodrigo Lopez said. "That is a team that will never
give up."

Cuddyer started the rally with a double and Kubel singled before
Morneau's 12th home run of the season.

"Him, strong like bull," Torii Hunter said of his teammate.
"We need that out of him."

Game notes
Mauer has hit safely in 17-of-18 games and 26 of the last
28. He has four straight mulit-hit games. ... Rodrigo Lopez allowed
three runs in seven strong innings, but failed to win his fourth
straight start when the Twins rallied late. ... Melvin Mora
strained his right shoulder and was replaced at third base for the
bottom of the seventh inning. "I haven't talked since he went
out," Perlozzo said. "He said he tweaked it before the game
warming up and after the inning he said it was getting worse."