ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Justin Morneau knew he needed a homer for the cycle. He was perfectly happy when he rapped a bloop single instead.
"It's unbelievable the way he's swinging the bat," Twins catcher Joe Mauer said.
Morneau went 4-for-4 and is 23-for-51 (.451) with six homers and 19 RBI in 13 games since being activated from the 15-day disabled list. The first baseman missed 10 games with a concussion.
"Four-for-4, I'll take that," Morneau said. "I'm not too worried about the cycle and all that."
Morneau drove in two runs with a two-strike, bases-loaded single that put Minnesota up 8-1 in the seventh. He had eight RBI in the series. The hit down the left-field line came after he took a big swing earlier in the at-bat.
"When it got to two strikes, all I was trying to do was put it in play," Morneau said.
Morneau had another chance in the ninth, but walked on a 3-2 pitch from Devil Rays closer Danys Baez. He had homered in his previous four games.
"He's playing the game the right way," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's pretty exciting when you have a chance to do something like that. He's seeing the ball very good, and he's not trying to do too much. He's staying within himself."
Matthew LeCroy had a three-run homer and Mauer added a solo shot for Minnesota, which swept the three-game series and has won nine of 12. The Twins have scored 33 runs in the last four games.
"We're banging the ball around ... we're scoring some runs," Gardenhire said. "We're having a pretty good time running around the bases."
Morneau, 23, and Mauer, 22, were a combined 12-for-19 with four homers and 12 RBI in the series.
"I think it's amazing how young they are and the approaches they take at the plate," LeCroy said. "They don't swing at any bad pitches. They just take advantage of the mistakes pitchers make."
Jorge Cantu hit a three-run homer and Chris Singleton had a two-run double during a five-run seventh that pulled the Devil Rays within 8-6.
"We didn't do the things we needed to in order to win," Singleton said.
Twins starter Joe Mays (2-1) gave up five runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander, who is from nearby Bradenton, entered 0-2 with an 11.45 ERA in three previous games at Tropicana Field.
Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 10 opportunities.
Juan Castro put the Twins up 2-0 in the third with a two-run single, snapping an 0-for-9 slide. Charles Johnson brought the Devil Rays within 2-1 with a double in the fifth before Morneau's RBI triple and LeCroy's three-run homer off Doug Waechter (1-2) made it 6-1 in the sixth.
Waechter gave up six runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He has allowed 29 homers over 131 2/3 innings in his career. The Devil Rays have allowed an AL-high 48 homers this season, while hitting just 22.
Mays allowed just one run though six, but was lifted after allowing four consecutive hits -- including Singleton's two-run double -- with one out in the seventh. Cantu greeted reliever Terry Mulholland with his three-run shot.
Mauer homered off Baez in the ninth.
Minnesota CF Torii Hunter was out of the lineup because of mild groin soreness. He had started all the Twins' previous 29 games this season. ... Tampa Bay 1B Aubrey Huff has gone 18 games without a homer. He has two this year after hitting 29 in 2004. ... Cantu was in a 2-for-23 slide before his seventh-inning homer. It was his first in 22 games. ... The Twins have homered in eight consecutive games, their longest stretch since 12 in a row from July 14-26, 2002. ... Tampa Bay starters have a 6.97 ERA over the last 27 games.
|Players of the Game|
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|Shannon Stewart, LF||4||1||0||0||1||1||2||.273|
|Nick Punto, 2B-SS||4||1||1||0||1||1||1||.250|
|Joe Mauer, C||4||2||2||1||1||0||1||.356|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||4||1||4||3||1||0||0||.429|
|Lew Ford, CF||3||1||0||0||1||0||4||.264|
|Jacque Jones, RF||4||0||0||0||1||0||3||.341|
|Matthew LeCroy, DH||5||2||2||3||0||1||6||.299|
|Terry Tiffee, 3B||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||.294|
|Luis Rivas, 2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.204|
|Juan Castro, SS-3B||3||0||1||2||1||0||0||.219|
|2B - Nick Punto (4, Fossum), Justin Morneau (4, Waechter), Terry Tiffee (4, Waechter)|
|3B - Justin Morneau (2, Waechter)|
|HR - Joe Mauer (4, Baez), Matthew LeCroy (5, Waechter)|
|RBI - Joe Mauer (12), Justin Morneau 3 (20), Matthew LeCroy 3 (15), Juan Castro 2 (4)|
|CS - Nick Punto (1, 2nd base by Waechter/Johnson)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Joe Mays (W,2-1)||6.1||7||5||5||1||4||0||4.88|
|Jesse Crain (H,3)||0.2||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.00|
|Joe Nathan (S,9)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||0.00|
|Pitches-Strikes - Joe Mays 93-65, Terry Mulholland 16-12, Jesse Crain 7-4, Joe Nathan 17-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Mays 8-6, Terry Mulholland 3-0|
|Batters Faced - Joe Mays 26, Terry Mulholland 5, Jesse Crain 2, Joe Nathan 4|
|Tampa Bay Devil Rays|
|Alex Sanchez, DH||5||0||1||0||0||2||1||.311|
|Julio Lugo, SS||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.278|
|Carl Crawford, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.277|
|Aubrey Huff, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.254|
|Nick Green, 2B||3||2||1||0||1||1||1||.323|
|Damon Hollins, CF||4||1||2||0||0||1||1||.385|
|Chris Singleton, RF||3||1||1||2||1||0||2||.257|
|Charles Johnson, C||4||1||2||1||0||1||1||.292|
|Jorge Cantu, 3B||4||1||1||3||0||0||2||.262|
|2B - Damon Hollins (2, Mays), Chris Singleton (1, Mays), Charles Johnson (4, Mays)|
|HR - Jorge Cantu (4, Mulholland)|
|RBI - Chris Singleton 2 (4), Charles Johnson (4), Jorge Cantu 3 (13)|
|2-OUT RBI - Charles Johnson (1)|
|CS - Julio Lugo (2, 2nd base by Mays/Mauer)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|DP - Green-Lugo-Huff, Lugo-Green-Huff|
|Tampa Bay Devil Rays|
|Doug Waechter (L,1-2)||5.1||8||6||6||4||1||1||6.58|
|IBB - Jones by Doug Waechter|
|HBP - Ford (by Danys Baez)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Doug Waechter 99-56, Casey Fossum 47-28, Danys Baez 40-24|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Doug Waechter 3-9, Casey Fossum 3-3, Danys Baez 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Doug Waechter 25, Casey Fossum 12, Danys Baez 6|
|Attendance - 9519|
|Game Time - 2:50|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - Marvin Hudson, First Base - Larry Young, Second Base - Eric Cooper, Third Base - Field Culbreth|