Cabrera holds down Twins for O's victory

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Back home after a two-week trek, the Baltimore Orioles knocked off another first-place team behind a rookie pitcher who laid to rest all the talk about his supposedly tired arm. Daniel Cabrera pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and Jose Leon and Melvin Mora had two RBI apiece to lead the surging Orioles past the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday. During a three-game stretch last month in which Cabrera yielded 20 runs and 20 hits in just over eight innings, it appeared as if he was just too tired to be effective anymore. Even though Cabrera had already pitched more innings in one season than ever before, Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli attributed the slump to a loss of confidence and insisted that the right-hander was strong enough to turn things around and finish the season with a flourish. Cabrera has thus far done just that, and now it seems as if the Orioles are poised to close out the year on a positive note, too. Cabrera (11-7) yielded one run and four walks in 7 1-3 innings. It was a suitable encore for his last performance, when he held Tampa Bay scoreless over 6 1-3 innings. "He's gotten ahead in the count, and that's the key for him," Mazzilli said. "I think he's mechanically changed a little bit, and so he's throwing strikes again. Now you see that confidence level getting up." It was the seventh win in eight games for the Orioles, playing at home for the first time since Aug. 22. Baltimore went 0-6 on its last homestand, and ended up losing 12 in a row overall. But the Orioles have gone 7-1 since, in part because the starters have allowed only four earned runs over the last six games. Cabrera, who leads major league rookies in wins, left with a runner on first in the eighth. B.J. Ryan promptly ended the inning by getting Jacque Jones to hit into a double play, the Orioles' third of the game. Jorge Julio worked the ninth for his 21st save, a day after he walked in the winning run with the bases loaded against the New York Yankees -- Baltimore's lone defeat in a three-game series against the AL East leaders. Cabrera got the best of veteran left-hander Terry Mulholland (4-8), who gave up four runs and nine hits in five-plus innings. "We got outpitched today. Terry didn't throw bad, but he made a couple of mistakes," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Their guy threw the ball very well, changed speeds, used his breaking ball, located his fastball. He basically kept us off balance." The Twins threatened in the second, but twice had runners cut down at the plate. After Justin Morneau was thrown out trying to score on a grounder to the diving Leon at first, Lew Ford was tagged out at home after tagging up on a fly ball to right fielder B.J. Surhoff. "On the one groundball to first, you'd think you should be able to score on that ball with the guy laying down on the ground throwing from the ground, but we obviously didn't get a good jump," Gardenhire said. "And B.J. just made a good throw." Minnesota ended a scoreless duel in the fifth. Terry Tiffee hit a leadoff single and took third when Henry Blanco doubled off the glove of left fielder Larry Bigbie. Augie Ojeda then hit a sacrifice fly, but the Twins wouldn't get another hit until the ninth. The Orioles took the lead for good in their half of the fifth. Tim Raines Jr. led off with a single and advanced to third on a double by Brian Roberts before Mora hit a two-run single to left. Leon hit his second homer of the season in the sixth, driving an 0-1 pitch into the left-field seats after Surhoff drew a leadoff walk. Raines then chased Mulholland with a bloop double. "I gave up a leadoff walk to B.J., a left-hander. That's not good," Mulholland said. "Then it turns into a two-run homer and a 4-1 ballgame."

Game notes
Roberts also doubled in the eighth, his 45th of the season, two short of the club record set by Cal Ripken in 1983. ... Orioles LHP Matt Riley (1-3, 8.39 ERA) will start Tuesday, his first appearance with Baltimore since July 2. Tuesday's scheduled starter, Erik Bedard, will go Wednesday. ... Minnesota has an extra-base hit in 40 straight games and has been held without one only four times this season. ... After the game, the Orioles recalled OF Darnell McDonald and RHP Rick Bauer from Triple-A Ottawa and purchased the contract of RHP Aaron Rakers from Ottawa. They also transferred 2B Jerry Hairston (ankle) to the 60-day DL.