SERIES: Strange Ending Helps Twins Earn Split In Tampa Bay

Twins, Rays split the four game homestand, and the Yankees go back on top of the AL East.

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Strange Ending Helps Twins Earn Split In Tampa Bay

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – Jason Kubel’s fluke go-ahead run-scoring single in the top of the ninth lifted the Minnesota Twins to an 8-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in the finale of a four-game set at Tropicana Field.

Tied at 6-6 entering the ninth, Jason Repko doubled leading off against reliever Joaquin Benoit (0-1) and advanced to third on a ground ball. Joe Mauer was intentionally walked and Delmon Young bounced into a fielder’s choice before the Twins went ahead in a bizarre way.

With runners still on first and third, Kubel hit a towering pop up toward second base, but the ball hit the Tropicana Field catwalk and landed near the pitchers mound for a base hit, allowing Repko to score the go-ahead run. Michael Cuddyer added an RBI single for an 8-6 game.

In the home half, Matt Capps (1-0), who retired the final batter in the eighth, stayed on and walked John Jaso with one out. The right-hander recovered to strike out pinch-hitter Ben Zobrist looking before Carl Crawford grounded out to second to end the game.

Kubel finished 2-for-5 with two RBI and scored a run, while Repko added a solo homer for the Twins, who managed a split in the series and have won 10 of 12 overall. Twins starter Kevin Slowey earned a no-decision after tossing 7 2/3 innings, yielding four runs on as many hits with one walk and fanning nine.

Jason Bartlett clubbed a game-tying pinch-hit grand slam and B.J. Upton smacked a solo shot, both coming as part of a six-run eighth for Tampa Bay, which has lost two in a row after winning 10 of its previous 11 and fell a half-game behind the New York Yankees for the top spot in the American League East.

Rays starter Wade Davis labored through six innings. The right-hander, who had won his previous four starts coming in, surrendered 10 hits and six runs, walked one and struck out two.

Minnesota sent nine hitters to the plate in the first inning. Alexi Casilla got things started with a double, and Mauer and Young followed suit with back- to-back RBI two-baggers. Kubel then chased in another with a single up the middle, moved to second on a base hit and came home on J.J. Hardy’s single to center.

Slowey retired the first nine batters he faced before yielding a single to Sean Rodriguez leading off the fourth, then set down the next three hitters to keep it a 4-0 game.

Meanwhile, Davis settled down to retire 10 in a row then gave up leadoff homer to Repko in the fifth. Drew Butera’s run-scoring double to left in the sixth brought in Hardy, who doubled, for a 6-0 Twins advantage.

Upton started Tampa’s comeback with a leadoff homer in the eighth. Slowey was later pulled with the bases loaded and two out, and Jesse Crain walked Willy Aybar to force in a run.

Ron Mahay relieved Crain and served up Bartlett’s tying blast to left.

Game Notes

Despite the loss, Tampa is still 5-3 against the Twins this season…Davis earned AL Rookie of the Month honors for July, as he went 4-0 in five starts with a 3.03 ERA…Hardy finished 3-for-4 with an RBI single and a run scored…Minnesota went 7-for-19 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine, while Tampa Bay finished 1-for-5 with RISP and left five…The Rays ended their 11-game homestand at 8-3.

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Rays Need 13 Innings To Lose 2-1 To The Twins

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – Delmon Young drove in the game-winning run in the 13th inning as the Minnesota Twins took a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in the third of a four-game set.

Scott Baker gave up just three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in the start for the Twins, who had dropped their previous two after winning eight straight. Jason Repko drove in the other run while Danny Valencia had two hits and scored a run.

“Anytime a pitcher pitches like that, you would love for him to get it. He deserves to win,” Twins center fielder Denard Span said of Baker. “It’s too bad for him, but I’m pretty sure if you go ask him, he would say that he’s just happy we won today.”

David Price was charged with just one run on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts over seven innings for the Rays, who had won three straight. Dan Johnson drove in the lone run while Lance Cormier (3-3) was handed the loss.

“Really impressed with Lance Cormier,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He hadn’t pitched in a while, and to do what he did, he did a great job, man.”

In the 13th inning, Alexi Casilla led off with a walk and Joe Mauer followed with a single. Young then put the Twins ahead with an RBI single to left.

Matt Guerrier (2-6), who worked a perfect 12th inning, then set the Rays down in order in the bottom of the frame to complete the win.

The Twins got on the board in the second as Valencia hit a two-out single and came home when Repko doubled off the wall in left for a 1-0 lead.

Baker retired the Rays in order in the second, third and fourth innings, but did give up a leadoff double to John Jaso in the fifth. Jaso was stranded there, though, as Baker set down the next three batters to preserve the one- run lead.

Carl Crawford doubled with one out in the sixth, but Baker struck out Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce to end the frame.

Baker set the Rays down in order in the seventh and the Twins put men on second and third with one out in the eighth, but Young flied out to shallow right and Michael Cuddyer grounded out to end the threat.

Sean Rodriguez nearly tied the game in the home eighth when he crushed a 2-1 pitch high enough and far enough, but it was just to the left of the left field foul pole. Baker worked around a one-out walk in the frame to preserve the lead.

Matt Capps came on to close the game in the ninth and promptly gave up a double to Longoria to start the frame. Longoria moved up a base on Joyce’s fly out and came home to tie the contest on Johnson’s single.

Game Notes

Tampa has taken five of the seven games against Minnesota this season…Kevin Slowey takes the mound for Minnesota on Thursday and will be opposed by Wade Davis for Tampa…Tampa had five hits in the game, four of which were doubles.

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Rays Blast Homers In 6-4 Win

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – B.J. Upton and Sean Rodriguez each hit a three-run homer and Jeff Niemann pitched seven solid innings, as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Minnesota Twins, 6-4, in the continuation of a four-game series at Tropicana Field.

Niemann (10-3) allowed three runs on eight hits with four strikeouts for the Rays, who have won three straight games and 10 of its last 11 games overall.

Joe Mauer drove in three runs for the Twins, who entered this series with an eight-game win streak but have now lost two straight after dropping Monday’s series opener.

With a Yankees loss, the Rays are in sole posession of 1st place in the AL East.

The Rays magic number is 56.

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Hellickson Debut Successful, Rays Win 4-2

Going into last night’s game, Jeremy Hellickson had some tall expectations to meet. Rays fans have been waiting for him to arrive all season long and with the Rays standing pat at the trade deadline, Hellickson needed to be near perfect or else risk being labeled a disappointment. Oh, but he didn’t disappoint.

The win, along with a Yankees loss leaves both teams tied atop the AL East division.

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