MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota Twins starter Brian Duensing stared into his locker in silence after the game with his hands folded on his head. The neatly hung shirts, warm-ups and jerseys offered no answers to his August woes.
The left-hander's troublesome month continued Tuesday night as he allowed a season-high tying seven earned runs in 2-plus innings, putting the Twins in a hole they couldn't dig out of in a 8-1 loss to Baltimore.
Third baseman Danny Valencia supplied the only support with a third-inning solo home run - not nearly enough to help Duensing (8-13) avoid an 0-5 record in five August starts. Duensing's allowed 25 earned runs in 26 innings this month for a 8.65 ERA.
``I'm just kind of wrong right now,' Duensing said. ``I don't feel like I have in the last couple of years.'
Minnesota fell to 1-5 on its homestand and has now lost 17 of its last 22 overall - falling from 6 games back of the American League Central Division leading Detroit Tigers to 15 behind and out of playoff contention in the process.
Alfredo Simon (4-6) allowed one run and three hits while striking out a career-high eight batters in a career-high eight innings for Baltimore. Vladimir Guerrero and Mark Reynolds both had three hits and Nolan Reimold added a three-run homer for the Orioles.
Duensing escaped the first inning unscathed, but things unraveled quickly after he stopped Vladimir Guerrero's bouncer with the fingertips of his pitching hand to lead off the second. Duensing recovered the ball in time to retire Guerrero, but threw wildly to first for an error.
``I couldn't feel the ball in my hand,' Duensing said. ``I still should've made the play, but I really couldn't feel it. I guess that's why we have gloves.'
After a wild pitch advanced Guerrero to third, Matt Wieters doubled him home and Mark Reynolds singled to put runners on the corners. Nolan Reimold cleared the bases with a three-run homer two batters later. Duensing allowed two more hits in the frame before pitching out of trouble, but found it again in the third inning.
Guerrero doubled, Wieters walked and Reynolds tripled both in to lead off the inning, followed by a Robert Andino RBI single to chase Duensing.
``He didn't locate the ball after that,' manager Ron Gardenhire said about Duensing's barehanded stop. ``It looked like he was trying to force pitches and he was up in the zone and they killed him.
``He said (his hand) was fine to go. Obviously he didn't get the ball where he wanted to and he paid for it.'
Simon, meanwhile, was masterful against a punchless Twins offense following a recent rough stretch.
The right-hander allowed three runs or less in his first five starts, compiling a 3.26 ERA. However, he had allowed 13 runs in 15 2-3 innings in his last three turns.
Simon retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced and didn't give up a hit after Luke Hughes' double in the third inning.
``You see that tonight and you know the potential is there, but everyone's trying to grasp that consistency,' Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. ``It will all be dictated by the command of the fastball, once you establish that. He had a live fastball, a lot of late life.'
After going 63 games without holding an opponent to one run or less, Baltimore's pitching has held Minnesota to two runs in the series with Simon's domination following Zach Britton's 4-1 win in the series opener on Monday.
Notes: Duensing's second-inning error was the 90th of the season for Minnesota - the third most in the American League. Minnesota committed only 78 errors last season, ranking second in the American League with a .987 fielding percentage. ... With Duensing's loss, Twins starters fell to 2-10 in the team's last 18 games, with Francisco Liriano accounting for both wins. Minnesota's 15-game deficit in the standings is its largest since trailing by 15 1/2 games on June 2. The Twins fell to 18 games under .500, their most since the same mark on June 3. ... RHP Lester Oliveros made his debut for the Twins, relieving Duensing. Oliveros, acquired from Detroit in the trade that sent OF Delmon Young to the Tigers, pitched two innings and gave up one run and two hits. ... Guthrie (5-16) will start Wednesday against the Twins. The right-hander has lost two straight decisions, and has allowed at least four runs in his last three starts. He is 2-8 with a 4.17 ERA in 11 road starts this season. ... Kevin Slowey (0-1) is scheduled to start for Minnesota. Slowey has made one full start since being recalled on Aug. 12, taking an 8-1 loss against New York when he allowed six runs in 5 2-3 innings. He started the Aug. 14 game at Cleveland but it was postponed by rain after two innings.
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