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.
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.