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Orioles not worrying about early one-run defeats

Sunday - 4/7/2013, 6:47pm  ET

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Jason Hammel throws against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game on Sunday, April 7, 2013, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

BALTIMORE (AP) -- On their way to breaking a 14-year streak of losing seasons with their first playoff appearance since 1997, the Baltimore Orioles won 29 of 38 one-run games in 2012.

However, center fielder Adam Jones said losing three games by a run in the first week of 2013 isn't going to rattle the Orioles.

"We still can be 29-9," Jones said after the Orioles lost 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday. "I think the numbers can happen like that, can't they? We lost our first two one-run games last year and it turned out the way it is. It's a long season, man. It's the first week of the season. Everybody will catch their breath and now the real long haul of the season is about to start."

The Orioles were upended twice this weekend by one run against a Twins team that has started the season with two series victories after losing more than 90 games in each of the past two seasons.

Aaron Hicks ended a 0-for-13 skid with a tiebreaking RBI single in a two-run seventh inning, rallying the Twins past the Orioles.

"It's early in the season but our goal is to win series," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Get our fans back and excited about this baseball team in a positive way. ... This was a really good series and although it's early in the season, we have to continue this for a while."

J.J. Hardy homered for the Orioles, who dropped the final two games of the weekend set. It was Baltimore's first series loss to the Twins since July 2010 -- and it hinged on the two-run rally and a ball that got lost in the sun in Minnesota's two-run third.

Trailing 3-2, the Twins started their comeback when Jason Hammel (1-1) hit Trevor Plouffe on the left elbow leading off the seventh and Wilkin Ramirez followed with a single. After Brian Dozier's sacrifice bunt, pinch-hitter Chris Parmelee tied it with a sacrifice fly and Hicks got his go-ahead hit.

"I was just trying to get a pitch to drive," Hicks said. "I was able to get it over the guy's head. As long as I got the hit and RBI, that's all that matters."

Gardenhire said Hicks, a rookie who had never played above Double-A before this year, wasn't pressing despite the early season slump.

"It's not easy for him," Gardenhire said. "He wants to get hits. To come up big in that situation was good for us and him."

Anthony Swarzak (1-0), activated from the disabled list before the game after missing time with fractured ribs, pitched 1 1-3 innings of scoreless relief.

Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his second save.

Hardy's two-run homer gave the Orioles the lead in a three-run second. Adam Jones drew a leadoff walk and one out later, Hardy lined a changeup from Pedro Hernandez into the seats in left-center for his second home run.

Nolan Reimold then singled, went to second on a groundout, Alexi Casilla walked and Nick Markakis made it 3-0 with a single.

The Twins loaded the bases against Hammel in the third on a pair of walks and a hit batter, and the Orioles starter appeared to be out of the inning when Justin Morneau lofted a two-out fly to center. But Jones lost the ball in the sun, and it dropped for a two-run double.

"It went in the sun and (I) missed it," Jones said. "Should have got around it better. Mistake, cost us a couple runs. Hammel's out there giving his heart out and a play like that, I got to make it. The first two were in the sun and I caught 'em, the last one I didn't, so it's my fault. I got to catch the ball."

Hernandez, recalled from Triple-A Rochester to start in place of the injured Cole De Vries, allowed three runs and four hits over five innings in his second major league start. He walked three and struck out three and said he wasn't nervous in his 2013 debut.

"Not really," Hernandez said. "This game is for men, this game is not for a child."

Hammel worked 6 2-3 innings, allowing four runs and four hits. He walked three and struck out three.

"He should have been through six scoreless except for the sun," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "But that's not going away. We just weren't able to overcome it. We had some people out there, just couldn't get a hit. Hits were at a premium today."

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