Rookie Max Kepler continued his midseason surge with a game-tying home run among two hits and two RBIs as the Minnesota Twins rallied to beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 on Thursday night.
The teams were squeezing in a make-up game from a May 9 postponement with Minnesota in the middle of a homestand and Baltimore heading for a weekend series at Toronto.
Kepler hit his 11th home run off reliever Odrisamer Despaigne (0-2) leading off the sixth inning to tie the game 2-all after Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez lasted five innings in his first start since July 8. Kepler had an RBI double as part of a four-run seventh.
Minnesota's Ryan Pressly (5-5) combined with two other relievers to allow just two hits the final three innings.
Kepler played in nine April games, hitting .167 before being sent back to Triple-A. He was recalled on June 1 and has 38 RBIs in his past 49 games. Kepler has eight home runs in 22 July games.
The rookie's work negated an effective spot start by Jimenez, who allowed one run and five hits and struck out eight in his first appearance since a 1-1/3 inning start on July 8. Jimenez had been in a bit of limbo with the Orioles since being ousted from the starting rotation with a 7.38 ERA.
Baltimore kept Jimenez off the mound in games, though. He never pitched out of the bullpen, though he did spend three days on the paternity leave list.
Despaigne followed and Kepler started Minnesota's rally. Brian Dozier gave the Twins the lead in the seventh with an RBI single and Eddie Rosario added a two-run triple.
Despaigne has allowed seven runs in his last four games, spanning nine innings.
Adam Jones homered on the first pitch of the game for the Orioles, who head to play the Blue Jays with a 1 1/2 game lead over Toronto in the AL East.
PLAYS AT THE PLATE
Minnesota was able to keep the game close in the fourth by throwing two runners out at the plate. Chris Davis singled and Mark Trumbo doubled to open the inning.
Davis was thrown out trying to score from third when Eduardo Escobar fielded a grounder from Jonathan Schoop and threw to catcher Juan Centeno. Pedro Alvarez followed with a single to right, but Kepler threw home to get Trumbo for his fifth assist in 58 games.
Twins: 3B Trevor Plouffe (fractured left rib) took batting practice on Thursday. Twins manager Paul Molitor said Plouffe could possibly start a rehab assignment on Friday.
Orioles: Baltimore follows its one-game stop in Minnesota with RHP Kevin Gausman (2-7, 3.77 ERA) taking the mound. Gausman earned just his second win in 17 starts in beating Cleveland in his last outing with seven scoreless innings. The Blue Jays will start RHP Marco Estrada (5-4, 2.94).
Twins: Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.40) opens the weekend home series against the Chicago White Sox, who counter with LHP Jose Quintana (8-8, 2.97) Nolasco is coming off his shortest start of the season when he allowed six runs and six hits in two innings against Boston.