MINNEAPOLIS -- It was all about missed opportunities for the Twins on Monday night against the Orioles.
It was certainly obvious on the offensive side, as Minnesota had plenty of chances to score runs in bunches, but left 10 runners on base as the team went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
And then there was the bigger picture of a missed opportunity on full display, as Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy -- who was traded by the Twins in the offseason -- connected on the go-ahead homer, his 24th of the year, to help hand his former team a 4-1 loss at Target Field.
It was another tough defeat for the Twins, who fell for the 13th time over their last 17 games. Minnesota has just three combined homers from its shortstops all year.
"We had some chances, and most of it came with two outs," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who along with third baseman Danny Valencia was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the eighth inning. "We had chances to drive in runs, but we never got the big hit. We got some people out there, but we never got the big hit to drive in runs with two outs. One run is not gonna get it done in this league."
Carl Pavano turned in a decent outing, surrendering four runs on nine hits and two walks over seven innings, but the right-hander remained winless over his last eight outings with the offense slumping yet again.
Pavano cruised through the first two innings, retiring the first six batters he faced, before allowing three straight singles to open the third, including a run-scoring single from Ryan Adams.
The Twins came back to tie it in the bottom of the inning against left-hander Zach Britton, as Ben Revere singled and Trevor Plouffe doubled to set the stage for an RBI groundout from Joe Mauer. The Twins later loaded the bases with two outs, but Jim Thome lined out to left field to end the rally.
Baltimore retook the lead for good in the fifth, as Hardy -- who played with Minnesota last season before being traded for Minor League pitchers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson in the offseason -- crushed a homer on a 2-2 fastball.
The solo shot came just moments after a fan interfered with a popup down the first-base line in foul territory to prevent first baseman Mauer from making an inning-ending catch. But Gardenhire and Pavano refused to blame the fan for attempting to catch the ball.
"You can't blame our fans for reaching out for a foul ball," Gardenhire said. "You can boo 'em, like I heard, but the ball was in the stands, and they're gonna try to catch it. Joe would've had the ball, but that's not why we lost the game. So let's not blame our fans. They're here to root for us and cheer for us."
Said Pavano: "I didn't even think about that. The whole at-bat I was trying to stay away from the inside of the plate. But I finally gave in to him, and the first pitch I threw in to him he hit out."
The Twins wasted a chance to score in the bottom half of the inning. Michael Cuddyer doubled and Jason Kubel walked with two outs, but Thome struck out looking on a fastball from Britton.
"It was big," said Britton, who picked up his first win since June 8 and was just activated off the disabled list. "Any time you can get out of those situations -- especially with a close game, and especially coming back my first day, having some bad outings recently -- to be able to get out of there where I haven't been able to in the past was pretty big."
The Orioles scored another run in the sixth on a blast from Matt Wieters that just cleared the fence in right field. Nick Markakis added an RBI double in the seventh, as Revere took a bad route on a hard line drive that allowed Hardy to score from first after drawing a one-out walk.
"I think he had so much backspin on it, that I thought it was going to come down, but it stayed up there," Revere said. "So it was just a little bit of a misread. I just have to learn from that."
Revere, though, made up for his miscue with a sensational over-the-shoulder leaping catch at the wall to rob Vladimir Guerrero of extra bases to end the seventh.
Pavano said it was "one of the best plays made behind me in my career," and Gardenhire gushed, "That might be one of the best catches I've ever seen."
They weren't alone in praising Revere for the sensational grab -- he made the leaping catch while climbing the wall in center field -- as he amazed his fellow outfielders.
"I saw Cuddyer and Kubel just standing there, just saying 'Oh my god," Revere said with a smile. "I was just going, 'Wow.' I've never done anything like it before, so it's pretty nice."
Minnesota, however, squandered yet another chance to cut into the Orioles' lead in the bottom of the frame, as Mauer singled and Cuddyer doubled with two outs, but left-hander Michael Gonzalez came in to face Kubel and struck him out.
It was downhill from there, as Valencia and Gardenhire were ejected by home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt for arguing balls and strikes in the eighth before the Twins went down silently in the ninth against closer Kevin Gregg.
"I think it was a combination of the entire game for me," Valencia said of the ejection on a frustrating night for the Twins. "I let it get the best of me, and I shouldn't have."