BALTIMORE -- Kyle Gibson's first full year in the Majors has been a learning process. The right-hander has had his share of ups and downs, including trouble getting of jams in recent starts, giving up exactly five runs in three of his last four outings heading into his start against the Orioles.
Gibson was better Saturday night, but the Twins had trouble with runners in scoring position, and reliever Jared Burton ultimately gave up a late run in a 3-2 loss at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Gibson was mostly solid through five innings, but the Twins were done in by an impressive display of speed from Adam Jones, who tagged on a shallow popup to center field from Chris Davis off Burton. Danny Santana had trouble getting the ball out of his glove after a long run, allowing Jones to score what proved to be the decisive run in the seventh.
"He had to run 18,000 miles and then he couldn't stop," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was running so fast to catch the ball he had to try to slow himself down to throw it. He was coming too hard. He did what he had to do because of the shallow ball. He just couldn't get his feet set."
Minnesota had plenty of chances against the Orioles, but went just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position to leave 11 runners on base.
The offense couldn't back Gibson, who also couldn't get deep into the game as he lasted just five innings and didn't factor into the decision. But he gave up just one run on four hits and three walks with six strikeouts while getting out of a few jams. He said he mixed in more changeups this time and worked on his mechanics to make his slider and fastball come out at a similar arm angle and speed.
"I think when I don't have my best stuff I can go out there and get outs, and I think that was important tonight," said Gibson, who threw 96 pitches and lowered his season ERA to 4.23. "They made me work hard but I didn't give in. I was able to limit the damage."
The Orioles threatened with two on and one out in the third, but Gibson was able to strike out Jones and Nelson Cruz to get out of the inning.
Gibson ran into trouble again in the fourth, walking Davis and allowing a single to J.J. Hardy with no outs. Jimmy Paredes followed with an RBI ground-rule double to center field for the game's first run. But the Orioles stranded both Hardy and Paredes, as Gibson was able to work his way out of another jam.
"He made pitches when he had to," Gardenhire said. "That was a lot of pitches in five innings. But he felt better and had better command."
Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman also was stuck with a no-decision and saw his streak of five straight quality starts come to an end. He had a similar line to Gibson, allowing just one run on six hits and three walks with six strikeouts over five innings.
"That was a challenge for him," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I'm not saying a struggle -- a struggle you give up a lot more runs. He made key pitches when he had to."
The Twins scored their first run against Tillman in the fifth on the first sacrifice fly of Oswaldo Arcia's career after Joe Mauer walked and advanced to third on a single from Kennys Vargas. After Gibson departed, the Orioles took the lead with two outs in the sixth on a solo shot from Paredes off left-hander Brian Duensing.
But the lead was short-lived as the Twins came back with a run of their own in the seventh. Brian Dozier led off the inning with a single off Tommy Hunter before left-hander Andrew Miller was brought in to face Mauer. Miller uncorked a wild pitch, moving Dozier to second, then Mauer came through with an RBI single to left to tie the game.
The Twins, though, couldn't score after that, as relievers Darren O'Day and Zach Britton combined to shut the Twins down over the final two innings.
"You get into their bullpen and they're pretty good," Gardenhire said. "We put some people out there. We had missed a couple chances and got a few good hits, but it went back and forth and we couldn't shut them down."