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Young's walk-off lifts Twins to cardiac win

Young's walk-off lifts Twins to cardiac win

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minutes after scoring the winning run in the ninth inning Tuesday against Baltimore, Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer made a bold statement about teammate Delmon Young, who drove in Cuddyer in walk-off fashion.

"Obviously, since he's been swinging great we've been playing better," Cuddyer said. "I think that's a direct correlation with wins and losses."

Young's hitting certainly had an impact Tuesday, as he capped a 4-for-5 night at the plate by recording the game-winning RBI off Baltimore's Kam Mickolio. The Twins' designated hitter was able to drive in Cuddyer from second with a full count and two outs.

As Cuddyer crossed home plate, Minnesota's seventh and final run in its 7-6 victory meant a lot for the Twins.

It meant they were finally back to .500 for the first time since Aug. 1.

It meant they have now put together a five-game winning streak, their longest of the 2009 season.

And it also meant they moved into a tie with the White Sox for second in the American League Central after Chicago fell to Boston earlier in the night.

"It's all about winning games now," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We said first you fight your way back to .500 and then you go from there. The only way we were going to do that was by putting together a little streak here."

Minnesota might not have climbed back to .500 were it not for a three-run rally in the sixth inning -- a familiar scenario for a Twins team that had put together a few sixth-inning comebacks during its latest road trip.

Against Texas last week, Minnesota compiled a pair of four-run sixth innings on back-to-back nights in 9-6 and 5-4 wins over the Rangers. On Monday in the series opener at home against the O's, the Twins scored both of their runs in the sixth as they claimed a 2-1 victory.

Tuesday, it was more of the same, as Minnesota again used the sixth to fight back from a deficit.

Heading into the frame down 6-3, Minnesota's first five batters reached base. Young led off with a single to left and was followed by a Carlos Gomez single. Alexi Casilla doubled off the baggie in right, scoring Young.

Denard Span then walked to load the bases, and reliever Brian Bass walked Cabrera to bring in Gomez and cut Baltimore's lead to 6-5. One at-bat later, Joe Mauer grounded out to second, but the out scored Casilla to knot the game at 6.

"It's just coincidence. I don't think there's anything to it," Cuddyer said of his team's recent success in the sixth inning. "I don't think you can sit around, hold your breath until the sixth inning and then all of a sudden expect us to explode. I just think that's the way it's worked out the past week or so."

Coincidence or not, the sixth inning again was big for the Twins, showing a team that refuses to quit.

"We know we're always in the ballgame until the last out's made," Young said.

"You continue to have confidence. You feel like no matter what, you're always going to be in the game and have a chance to win at the end," Cuddyer said. "Whether or not you do, you don't know. But all you can ask for is to give yourself a chance to win every night."

The walk-off dramatics helped Minnesota overcome the rough Major League debut of starting pitcher Armando Gabino, who lasted just 2 2/3 innings. Gabino gave up four runs on five hits while walking three. He was tagged for three of his four runs in the second inning, including a two-run double by Baltimore's Michael Aubrey.

Gabino gave way in the third to Philip Humber, who didn't exactly stop the bleeding. Humber allowed another run and walked four Orioles batters in just one inning of work.

"Pitching was kind of all over the place, walking too many people early in the ballgame," Gardenhire said. "We were just trying to hang in there."

Justin Morneau added his 29th home run of the season in the third to cut the deficit to 4-3. It was Morneau's second game back in the lineup after missing six games due to dizziness.

"For him to put the ball in the seats, you could see a smile on his face," Gardenhire said.

After Minnesota's big sixth inning, the Twins bullpen combined to shut down the Orioles. Jesse Crain pitched two scoreless innings, while Jose Mijares (2-2) worked a scoreless ninth to earn the win.

"Jesse Crain was super. Mijares was super," Gardenhire said. "I don't think they got the game ball in there, but they deserve it because they saved us and gave us opportunities to score."

Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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