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BAL@MIN: Hardy sends an RBI hit up the middle

MINNEAPOLIS -- Coming off of Thursday's doubleheader, Orioles manager Buck Showalter admitted Saturday morning his club could use one more day of getting a deep start to get the bullpen back on track.

Unfortunately for the O's, that didn't happen as lefty Wei-Yin Chen could not record an out in the sixth inning in an all-too-familiar early-season start. Chen's brief outing, coupled with an offense that had no answer for previously struggling Twins starter Kevin Correia, led to a 6-1 series-evening loss at Target Field on Saturday afternoon.

"We were hoping to get another out of him to shorten the number of outs we needed out of the bullpen," Showalter said of Chen, who threw a season-high 108 pitches.

"I thought he was wild in the strike zone a lot, looking at some of the pitches in between innings on the replay. He was trying to go away and he jerks it across. He's trying to go in and he leaves it out over the plate. Sometimes that has to do with the foul balls too, and you've got a sequence set up where you can go in or this pitch can do that, and that allows a guy to fight that pitch off. There's a place to pitch everybody, even Babe Ruth, but it's a matter of getting the ball there consistently."

The defeat snapped a three-game win streak for the O's and gave Correia his first win in six starts this season as Minnesota stopped a four-game skid. The Orioles' offense, which scored a second-inning run on former Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy's RBI single, had no answer for Correia over his seven innings, and he retired 13 of 14 before handing the ball over to the 'pen.

"It was good," said Correia, who picked up his first win since Sept. 1, 2013, in the 102-pitch outing. "Ricky [Nolasco] did a great job last night and [I] was able to talk to him and kind of get a game plan for what I needed to do to get deep into the game.

The O's lone run came courtesy of Adam Jones, who struck out and advanced on a wild pitch, moving to second on a stolen base. The O's mustered up five hits off Correia -- including Nick Markakis' one-out double in the fifth -- but never got anything going off the righty, who entered the game 0-3 with a 7.33 ERA.

"Now with scouting reports and as much TV as we get, we kind of know what all pitchers are doing, or are going to be trying to do," Hardy said of Correia, who stranded a pair of runners in the second and third innings. "He just executed really well today."

Chen didn't get hit around, but he labored and exited early after a leadoff walk to Jason Kubel in the sixth. A pair of defensive miscues behind him didn't help, as American League Gold Glove Award winners Hardy and Manny Machado could not execute plays, putting the O's at 2-8 in games in which they commit at least one error.

Though Hardy's error didn't cost the O's, Machado's errant throw -- on a slow roller from Brian Dozier -- ended up leading to a Twins run in the fifth inning. After allowing an RBI double in the first inning, Chen surrendered a leadoff homer to Dozier in the third before the Twins extended their lead to 3-1 with an unearned run two frames later.

"Last start, for example, my slider was working really great in that game. So hitters have something more to think about," Chen said through his interpreter. "Today, my slider wasn't all that good, so the hitter has one less pitch to worry about. I need to get all my pitches working so hitters have trouble staying on my fastball."

Twins first baseman Joe Mauer, who singled in Dozier in the fifth, took Brad Brach deep in the Orioles reliever's debut, connecting for a three-run homer in the seventh. Brach recorded four outs after Chen, giving up four hits total, before handing the ball off to lefty Troy Patton, who threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings in his second outing this season.

"We squared some balls up and didn't get much to show for it, and then after that he didn't make many mistakes," Showalter said of Correia. "You know what guys are going to do, especially with a background he has. He was able to do it. There's a fine line there.

"Wei-Yin was a little wild in the strike zone, but we scored one run. Wei-Yin pitched well enough for us to be more in that game, but you'd still like to see him get deeper in that game than the fifth inning."

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