BALTIMORE -- Nick Markakis had just hit his third home run, and the crowd at Camden Yards stood in appreciation, demanding a curtain call.
Markakis was in the process of putting away his helmet when hitting coach Terry Crowley shoved the rookie toward the top of the dugout stairs. Markakis waved his helmet to the fans, who yelled even louder before sitting down in anticipation of his next at-bat.
There would be no fourth home run, but Markakis did more than enough to carry the Baltimore Orioles past the Minnesota Twins, 6-3, last night.
The loss ruined Minnesota's bid to gain ground in the wild-card race. The Twins started the day a half-game behind the White Sox and 3 1/2 ahead of the Red Sox.
Markakis homered in the first, third, and fifth innings off Carlos Silva (8-11). Seeking to become the 16th player in major league history to hit four in a game, he hit a short fly ball to left in the sixth against Willie Eyre. Markakis was left standing in the on-deck circle at the conclusion of the eighth but expressed no disappointment. ``Not at all. We came on out on top, we played great as a team. What else could you ask for?" he said.
Markakis became the 18th Oriole to hit three in a game -- the first since Albert Belle in July 1999.
Markakis now has 11 home runs this year, and his 3-for-4 performance improved his batting average to .306. ``I don't know if he's the guy who ran for president -- Dukakis? -- but he killed us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``He probably could win some votes for president right now."
Brian Roberts and Corey Patterson also connected off Silva , who has yielded 30 homers this season.
Adam Loewen (4-4) gave up singles to four of the first six batters, then got 21 straight outs before being removed after eight innings and 108 pitches.
Roberts led off the third with his seventh homer, and two pitches later Markakis homered to right. Silva said, ``How much did I know about [Markakis] ? The only thing I know is he knows how to hit home runs."