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Simon’s solid effort helps O’s top Twins

August 23, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Alfredo Simon had already enjoyed the best start of his career through eight innings on Tuesday, but he was not satisfied with stopping there. Simon had his sights on closing out the game.

“I thought it was a tough decision to send him out there for the eighth,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “But he was the difference in the game tonight, I was proud of him.”

Simon would not finish out the ninth, but his dominant performance, along with the offense jumping all over Twins lefty Brian Duensing, allowed the Orioles to cruise to an 8-1 victory at Target Field.

The Orioles held the Twins to just one run for the second straight night, the first time they’ve held an opponent to one run or fewer on consecutive nights since limiting the Rays and Tigers to just one run in the first four games of the season.

Setting career-high marks in both innings and strikeouts with eight of each, Simon delivered a superb outing, snapping a three-start winless streak. Over those eight innings, Simon allowed just one run on three hits with one walk.

“I just tried to throw the first pitch for a strike, no matter what hitter it was,” Simon said. “I just felt really good tonight.

“I know just threw like 100-something pitches or whatever [114], but I felt like I could throw the ninth inning, because I wasn’t really tired. I wanted to finish the game. I asked for the last one.”

Over his previous three starts, Simon was 0-2 with a 7.47 ERA, allowing 16 runs (13 earned) on 29 hits in 15 2/3 innings. He picked up his fourth win of the season on Tuesday and his first since Aug. 2.

Simon looked more like the pitcher who went 2-3 with a 3.26 ERA over his first five starts of the season, than the one who had struggled over the last two weeks.

The only real mistake Simon made all night was an 0-1 pitch to Twins third baseman Danny Valencia, who drove it over the left-field fence for Minnesota’s only run of the ballgame.

“Our offense was just non-existent,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “[Simon] threw the ball really well. I think we saw splitters and curveballs, and a decent fastball from him. He had us guessing all night along. Danny put one good swing out there early, but we had to battle the rest of the night.”

Beginning with three straight hits in the second inning, the Orioles hit Duensing hard. The O’s plated four in the second inning, including a three-run homer by left fielder Nolan Reimold.

Reimold’s blast was the 100th homer for the Orioles since June 1, a mark that leads the Majors.

“I think he was just leaving balls over the plate and we were able to take advantage of it,” Reimold said. “It seemed like he had pretty good stuff, just didn’t hit his spots.”

In the third, Baltimore added three more runs as it put four straight runners on base with three hits and a walk, highlighted by Mark Reynolds’ two-run triple.

Duensing lasted just two-plus innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits and a walk with one strikeout. After Guerrero hit one back up the middle off Duensing’s left hand, he made a poor throw to first and did not seem to be the same pitcher the rest of the night.

“I know he took that ball off the barehand, and you never know what effect that has on a guy,” Showalter said. “But we had a good approach to him. We were fortunate tonight, he’s better than that.”

Reynolds, along with designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, led the way at the plate as the middle of the O’s order went 7-for-11 with four walks, four RBIs, two doubles, a triple and seven runs scored.

Catcher Matt Wieters walked in each of his last four plate appearances, setting a career-high with four walks and by reaching base five times.

After losing five straight, the Orioles have won consecutive games for just the fourth time in the last two months.

“We’re not going to throw in the towel,” Reimold said. “We’re going to keep battling, keep trying to get some wins, and just keep trying to play good baseball. The last two days have been good days for us, so we’re looking to continue doing that.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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