Hot spot no sweat for fresh reliever

Jim Hoey found his way to Baltimore -- and back to the majors -- just in time to help.

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BALTIMORE - Jim Hoey got the call to the majors Sunday while Class AAA Rochester was in Scranton. He left Scranton for Philadelphia -- but missed his connecting flight to Baltimore, so he didn't arrive in Charm City until 12:30 a.m. Monday.

It was plenty of time for the righthander to think about how he would approach his former team.

"The last two games of spring training they were just sitting dead-red fastball,'' Hoey said. "I wanted to show them tonight that you can't do that.''

So Hoey, with a fastball that hit 97 miles per hour on the Camden Yards radar gun Monday, opened with a split-fingered fastball to Derek Lee, then got him to fly out to end the seventh. Hoey followed with a scoreless eighth, and the Twins went on to win 5-3 over the Orioles for their first consecutive victories of the season.

Francisco Liriano went 61/3 innings to get his first win of the season. Drew Butera drove in three runs with a double and a single.

Hoey was called up Sunday after the struggling Joe Nathan relinquished the closer's role to work on his pitches in a less-demanding role. Matt Capps, who on Monday picked up his second save, will close. The Twins needed a power arm for the late innings and looked to Hoey, who came to the Twins as part of the deal that sent shortstop J.J. Hardy to the Orioles in December.

Good first impression against the organization that drafted him in the 13th round in 2003.

"Hoey, what can you say?"' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He comes right up from the get-go and gets put right into the hot box. He went right through the middle part of their lineup, the biggest hitters you are going to face, and threw the ball really well.''

Hoey got Vladimir Guerrero to fly out to right, struck out Mark Reynolds looking and got Adam Jones to swing and miss at a wicked split-fingered fastball before grounding out to end the eighth.

Hoey was cut from spring training camp with a request from Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson to work on his other pitches.

"The last game of spring training I came out of the game and went straight to the bullpen with Andy, and he had me just throwing it soft, throwing it easy, just getting a feel,'' Hoey said. "For me, that really has helped. Went down to the minor leagues and worked on it.

"It really has helped. It has opened my eyes to a lot of different things. I've always have been a hard-hard guy. Now I can be a hard-soft guy.''

The Twins' top four hitters in the lineup -- Denard Span, Matt Tolbert, Jason Kubel and Jim Thome -- combined to go 1-for-18 with a whopping eight strikeouts against unheralded Chris Tillman and the Baltimore bullpen.

The offense came from Butera, who lobbed a two-run double down the right field line in the second inning and a cracked a sharp single in the ninth that enabled pinch runner Jason Repko to score to make it 4-2. Another run scored on Kevin Gregg's wild pitch.

Butera's last RBI was a big one, because Luke Scott homered off Capps in the ninth before the closer got the final out.

"We had some key hits by some people you don't expect a lot of hitting from,'' Gardenhire said. "That's big for our baseball team.''

So is Hoey, if he can occasionally keep hitters off his big-time fastball.

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  • TWINS 5, BALTIMORE 3

    Up next: 6:05 tonight at Baltimore

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