Orioles wait it out for win

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Losers of nine of their past 11 games, the Orioles were hoping to right the ship when they got home Wednesday from a difficult road trip.

They didn't know they'd actually need an ark by the end of the night.

Surviving four rain delays of nearly four hours total, the Orioles beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-1, in a game that was finally, mercifully called in the top of the sixth with two outs and one on when another pocket of storms hit.

Roughly 50 of the announced crowd of 10,566 fans stuck around for the official announcement.

The game was delayed 42 minutes before the first pitch, 40 more minutes with one out in the bottom of the second, again for an hour and 27 minutes with two strikes thrown in the top of the fourth and a final delay of 57 minutes before the game was officially called.

If it had ended in the fourth with the Orioles leading 3-1 — which looked like a distinct possibility — the game would have been started again Thursday afternoon with none of the statistics counting.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire thought it never should have been played. Period.

"We never had a window all night long. All you have to do is look at the radar and you see it's supposed to rain all night long," an angry Gardenhire said. "Once we stopped the first time, we should never have gone right back out there. There was never more than a 15-minute window to do anything. It stopped raining, [then] started raining hard again.

"That's a joke."

Umpire crew chief Randy Marsh said the fits and starts is the only way it could have been played.

"Every time that we started, it had stopped raining," Marsh said. "I can't justify just sitting back here and waiting for it to start raining again, so you get the game in in bits and pieces. As much as I was trying to get the game in, I also wanted to wait at least an hour to let the Twins get another at-bat [at the end]. It just wasn't going to happen."

Marsh said the fact that this was the Twins' only trip in to Baltimore did not play into his decision making.

"I didn't even think about it," he said. "It could always be made up another time if it had to."

So in an early season that has been dismal for the Orioles (11-17), they caught a break — or a window of arguably playable weather anyway.

"I lost track of the time. There were so many scenarios going through my head tonight, because I thought you had to almost play the game instead of nine innings [like] it was a five-inning game," Trembley said. "After the first delay, Randy Marsh told me we are going to be here for a while."

Gardenhire also was angered that the game was destined for five innings.

"I think once we got going, we tried to play five innings, and Major League Baseball is nine innings," Gardenhire said. "We didn't get a chance to do that because the weather showed from the get-go that we shouldn't have been doing this. From the get-go, it said that all night long, and somebody made a mistake here and screwed up. And I don't know who is supposed to be accountable for this [junk], but my team ends up paying the final price here because we lose a baseball game."

Resuming in the top of the fourth at 10:44 p.m., the Orioles and Twins played for another 38 minutes, long enough for the clubs to get through the four and a half innings needed to make the game official.

Brian Bass (1-1) picked up his first win of the season with 2 2/3 innings of relief. Entering in the fourth with an 0-2 count to Matt Tolbert that was set up by starter Mark Hendrickson, Bass completed the strikeout. Technically, it took two pitchers and 41 minutes to strike out Tolbert, who was recalled from the minors Wednesday.

It was that kind of night.

Bass wriggled off the hook in the fifth after loading the bases with no outs. He gave up a fielder's choice grounder to score the lone Twins run, before attempting to pick off Nick Punto at first base.

Punto was caught in a rundown but would have been safe when Bass failed to cover first base. Instead, Carlos Gomez, the runner on third, broke home and was thrown out by a perfect bullet from shortstop Cesar Izturis.

"Izturis came up with a big out there," Trembley said. "A big out."

Bass then induced a comebacker to end the threat — and guarantee the game would become official.

The Twins put a runner on with two outs in the sixth when umpires again halted play.

And this time it stayed that way.

The torrential downpour nearly wiped out Nick Markakis' two-run homer off the right foul pole in the first against Twins starter Kevin Slowey. It could have wasted Luke Scott's two-RBI night, on a solo homer in the fourth and a single in the first.

Cognizant of the need for an official game, Scott sprinted around the bases after his homer.

"Absolutely wanted to get it [done] as soon as possible," Scott said. "I was in ambush mode the whole time."

It also nearly eradicated an excellent — albeit short — outing for lefty Mark Hendrickson, who retired nine of the 10 batters he faced, allowing a lone single to Mike Redmond in the third.

Hendrickson, who hadn't had a quality start in his five outings as an Oriole and had lost four straight since winning his debut April 10, was on his way to his most efficient night of the season.

He recorded three outs on seven pitches to start the game and followed with an 11-pitch second and a 14-pitch third. Plagued by high pitch counts in his previous starts, Hendrickson threw just 34 pitches before he had to exit.

This time, Hendrickson was chased by the rain.

Unrelenting rain — and a decision to play the game — that officially dampened Gardenhire's night.

"There is nothing to talk about other than that [expletive deleted] weather that you see on that [computer] screen all night long and we still tried to play," Gardenhire said. "Wrong. That's a bad thing."

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