BALTIMORE — When Steve Pearce went down with an injury, Orioles utility infielder Jimmy Paredes knew it was an opportunity to make his mark on a first-place team.
And the 25-year journeyman, who made his first start for Baltimore against the Twins, came through on Saturday night.
Paredes homered and Chris Davis hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh inning and the Orioles beat Minnesota 3-2.
The Orioles have won five of their past six games and lead the Yankees by eight games in the AL East. The Twins have lost 10 of their past 14 games.
Paredes, who was called up from the minors Thursday, went 2 for 4 with his first homer and had two RBIs. Davis is batting just .188, but has five RBIs in his past two games.
“I was ready to go,” Paredes said. “It feels good, I’m excited. We have a very good team here, we have fun, and we play the game the right way, hard. We’re working hard. We’re trying to make the playoffs and win the World Series.”
Zach Britton pitched a perfect ninth for his 30th save — the 10th different Oriole to record that many saves.
“We’re playing close games, our offense is getting just enough runs to where the pitching can go in and shut them down,” Britton said. “That’s kind of what we’ve been doing the whole season.”
Danny Santana had two hits for the Twins and has 40 for the month, most among all rookies. Minnesota went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman allowed one run and six hits with six strikeouts and three walks over five innings — his shortest outing since July 29. It was his sixth straight start allowing fewer than three runs.
“We were facing a really good pitcher,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We made him work the same way. He threw a lot of pitches. Then, you get into their bullpen and it’s pretty good. We missed a lot of chances. We also got a couple of big hits. Ultimately, we couldn’t shut them down and stop them.”
The Twins won a challenge in the fourth after Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop dropped a short toss from J.J. Hardy that was initially ruled a force out. However, Tillman retired the next three batters to get out of the jam.
Minnesota right-hander Kyle Gibson had allowed five or more runs in three of his past four starts. He was more effective, giving up one run and four hits with six strikeouts and three walks over five innings.
“It was a good game tonight,” Gibson said. “I think the one thing that stands out is both offenses worked the starting pitchers pretty hard. Both teams were patient and made us work hard.”
Paredes had an RBI double to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
“We talk all the time about opportunities,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Guys know around baseball that if you sign with us or whether you’re a free agent or from waivers, you’re going to have an opportunity, you’ve just got to be ready for it when it comes. He’s been around.”
Minnesota tied the game in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Oswaldo Arcia. Paredes hit a two-out solo homer off Brian Duensing to make it 2-1 in the sixth.
But Joe Mauer tied it again with a single off Andrew Miller (5-5) an inning later with the run charged to Tommy Hunter.
After Jared Burton (2-3) hit Adam Jones and allowed a single to Nelson Cruz, Davis followed with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 3-2.
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