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O’s, Jimenez blank Twins

USA TODAY Sports Baltimore starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez throws in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins on Friday at Target Field in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — Early on, both the Baltimore Orioles and Minnesota Twins looked like teams that played long doubleheaders the day before. Especially their bats.

And while Minnesota’s stayed quiet all night, Baltimore’s woke up in the sixth inning and provided enough offense for starter Ubaldo Jimenez, as the Orioles took the first of a three-game series against the Twins 3-0 Friday at Target Field.

The embattled Jimenez, who entered the game Friday 0-4 with a 6.59 ERA, looked like the Ubaldo of old, tossing 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball, striking out a season-high 10 Twins and walking only one for his first win of the season. The 10 punch-outs were the most by a Baltimore starter this season.

Desperately in need of a strong — and lengthy — outing from a starter, the Twins’ Ricky Nolasco was solid too, allowing two doubles and a run in the fourth inning before running into trouble to start the sixth. A hard single off the wall by Orioles third baseman Manny Machado set up a towering home run into the third deck in left field by left fielder Nelson Cruz, his eighth homer of the season. Nolasco then gave up a single and a walk, but worked out of the jam with a pair of groundouts and a strikeout to end the inning.

Nolasco took the loss, but had his best outing of the season, going the distance and allowing three runs (all earned), on nine hits and a walk. He struck out six and fell to 2-3 but saw his ERA drop nearly a run from 6.67 to 5.82

Cruz had the first double in the fourth inning and came around to score two batters later on a double by catcher Matt Wieters. Cruz went 2-for-4 on the night with two runs and two RBIs and is now batting .297 this season. Wieters also had two hits and raised his average to .354.

Jimenez allowed a lead-off single to Twins second baseman Brian Dozier and a single to center fielder Sam Fuld to start the third inning and had four 1-2-3 innings. He gave way to lefty Zach Britton after a one-out double in the eighth to Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar. Britton got a ground out from Dozier and struck out first baseman Joe Mauer to end the threat.

O’s closer Tommy Hunter gave up a lead-off double to third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the ninth, but retired the next three batters for his eighth save.

Baltimore grabbed the lead in the top of the fourth, getting doubles from left fielder Nelson Cruz and catcher Matt Wieters to take a 1-0 lead.

The Twins got runners into scoring position twice with nobody out in the first five innings, but were unable to get a clutch hit. Minnesota struck out seven times through five.

Notes: Orioles RF Nick Markakis led off the game with a single, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Orioles C Matt Wieters singled in the second and doubled in the first and now has nine multi-hit games this season.