Morneau, Kubel help Orioles to fourth straight loss

Finally! Morneau's home run, his 29th, ended a drought that spanned 28 games and 108 at-bats.

Figure this: The win was the Twins' seventh straight against the Orioles.

Santana watch: After fanning 17 in his last outing, Johan Santana (14-9) struck out seven Orioles in seven innings and improved to 24-5 in August during his career.

-- ESPN.com news services

Twins 7, Orioles 4

BALTIMORE (AP) -- On a night in which Johan Santana gave up three home runs, Minnesota won anyway, using a rare power surge to fuel an unlikely comeback.

If the Twins keep playing like this, maybe they'll finally start to grab some attention in the playoff chase.

Justin Morneau ended a career-long home run drought and Jason Kubel homered and drove in three runs, sparking a late rally that carried Santana and the Twins past the Baltimore Orioles 7-4 on Friday night.

Minnesota trailed 4-0 in the seventh inning before scoring the game's final seven runs to hand Baltimore its fourth straight loss. Kubel led the charge with a two-run homer in the seventh and a game-tying sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Torii Hunter added a two-run shot in the ninth, giving the Twins their first three-homer game since July 23, at Toronto. Morneau's home run, his 29th, launched the comeback and ended a drought that spanned 28 games and 108 at-bats.

Minnesota was 5-52 when trailing after seven innings. The victory, combined with Cleveland's loss in Kansas City, moved the third-place Twins within 5 1/2 games of the first-place Indians in the AL Central.

"It's fun to be chasing guys, to be close enough where you get a look at them," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We haven't played good enough for everyone to be talking about us. We haven't earned it. We still have a chance to earn our way back into this thing, and that's by playing good games."

Coming off a 17-strikeout performance against Texas on Sunday, Santana (14-9) gave up more than two home runs for only the second time in 27 starts. But the left-hander kept the game close enough for the Twins to earn their seventh straight win over the Orioles.

"He had to really work for it tonight," Gardenhire said of Santana. "They put some runs on him, but fortunately for us we came back late."

Santana allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walking one.

Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his 28th save.

Miguel Tejada and Nick Markakis homered in the first inning to put the Orioles up 3-0, and Corey Patterson added a solo shot in the sixth for a four-run cushion. But the lead wouldn't last.

Baltimore has yielded 31 runs in seventh, eighth and ninth innings during the team's four-game losing streak.

"We're confident that the right guys are in there. We're just not getting the job done," manager Dave Trembley said. "It just hasn't worked out."

The Orioles are winless since Trembley received a contract extension into 2008. The skid, Baltimore's longest since he took over on June 18, began with Wednesday's record-breaking 30-3 loss to Texas.

"I didn't think we were going to go through this thing without having a bump in the road," Trembley said. "You've got to be realistic about the big picture in this situation. You never want to go through this, but you're going to do it and youre going to have to deal with it the best you can."

Orioles rookie Jeremy Guthrie took a four-hit shutout into the seventh, then gave up a solo homer to Morneau and a two-run drive to Kubel. He left with the lead, but the bullpen cost the right-hander a shot at his first win in August.

Baltimore's Kevin Millar singled in the fourth inning to extend his club-record run of reaching base by hit, walk or hit by pitch to 51 games. The streak began on June 20.

Minnesota went up 5-4 in the eighth. Morneau hit a leadoff double off Jim Hoey (1-2) and took third on a single by Michael Cuddyer before Kubel hit a run-scoring fly. Three batters later, Alexi Casilla put the Twins ahead with a sacrifice fly.

Game notes
Radhames Liz will make his major league debut Saturday as Baltimore's starting pitcher. It will be his first game above the Doiuble-A level. ... Santana has gone at least five innings in 118 consecutive starts since May 23, 2004. ... It was only the fifth time this season that Santana allowed multiple home runs.