- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 31, 2003

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Trade rumors swirled around the Baltimore Orioles all day, and Brad Radke kept the pressure on their hitters.

Radke took a four-hit shutout into the eighth inning and wound up allowing one run and six hits in 71/3 innings as the Minnesota Twins beat the Orioles 5-1 Wednesday night. He struck out five and walked one in winning for just the second time in 13 starts.

“I had all my pitches working tonight,” Radke said. “I was locating my pitches where I wanted to.”

His performance was timely for the Twins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Minnesota now trails AL Central leader Kansas City by 5 games.

Jacque Jones drove in three runs for the Twins with a two-run single in the first and a sacrifice fly in the third.

The Orioles are out of the pennant race but have been the focus of multiple trade rumors, most of them surrounding their starter Wednesday, Sidney Ponson.

Ponson (14-6) struggled early, walking three and throwing a wild pitch in the first three innings. That led to three runs.

“Jacque Jones got the best of me today,” Ponson said. “A lot of walks, that doesn’t help either.”

Ponson lost for the first time in five starts but just the third time in 13.

Ponson said he wasn’t affected by the trade rumors, generated by him being a free agent after the season.

“I’m an Oriole right now, I’ll give everything I got,” Ponson said. “We’ve got one more day to the trading deadline and we’ll see what happens.”

The rumors turned out to be true, as Ponson was traded to San Francisco yesterday.

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said speculation surrounding potential Ponson deals was “hot and heavy” during the afternoon. First baseman Jeff Conine and third baseman Tony Batista also have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Neither of them, nor any of their teammates, had much luck against Radke. The Twins’ right-hander gave up just four singles over the first seven innings.

“You’re just hoping he makes a mistake,” Conine said. “He didn’t make too many tonight.”

Radke got a standing ovation when he departed after Luis Matos’ RBI single broke up his shutout bid in the eighth. Juan Rincon relieved and struck out Conine with two on. J.C. Romero then got Jay Gibbons on a grounder to end the inning.

Eddie Guardado completed the six-hitter as the Twins won for just the second time in their last eight meetings with the Orioles.

“Brad Radke did everything we asked,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He was unbelievable. He picked us up big time.”

Jones gave the Twins a 2-0 lead before a batter was retired, hitting a bases-loaded single that scored Shannon Stewart and Rivas. Stewart led off the game with a double, Rivas beat out an infield chopper and Doug Mientkiewicz walked.

The Twins added two more runs in the seventh when Cristian Guzman hit an RBI triple and scored on Stewart’s single.

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