MINNEAPOLIS -- The last thing Ron Gardenhire wanted to do was come out to the mound in the ninth inning to yank closer Matt Capps for a second time in a row.
The boos were raining down upon Capps at Target Field, and the Tampa Bay Rays were threatening to steal a game the Minnesota Twins simply couldn't afford to lose. So it was Glen Perkins to the rescue again.
Perkins got the final out of the ninth to bail out Capps again, helping the Twins hang on for a 3-2 victory over the Rays on Tuesday night.
"It's a terrible feeling having to go take him out of the game," Gardenhire said. "I said that the last time. And it's not fun for a manager to go take him out. We're trying to win ballgames. He understands that. He'll be the first to tell you that."
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Scott Baker (7-5) gave up one unearned run on three hits with three strikeouts for the Twins before leaving after five innings with a mild right elbow strain.
Perkins got Johnny Damon to ground out to shortstop to end the game. It was his second save in the last three nights, both coming after Capps couldn't finish the game.
Capps blew his sixth save of the year on Saturday when Milwaukee scored four runs in the ninth for an 8-7 win. He then was pulled from the game on Sunday after giving up two hits and Perkins came on for the save.
Upton hit Capps' first pitch deep into the left field seats to make it 3-2, and Kotchman ripped a single to right, eliciting chants of "We want Perkins!" from the impatient crowd.
"I don't blame them," said Capps, who never ducks the media after a tough outing. "I haven't been very good. I'd boo me, too."
Perkins got Damon to ground out to Tsuyoshi Nishioka on a very close play, and the sellout crowd breathed a big sigh of relief.
"When I crossed the bag I was like, `Awesome, we're getting our hottest hitter (Ben Zobrist) up here," Damon said. "Obviously, as you can see my reaction, I'm stunned."
James Shields (8-6) gave up three runs -- two earned -- on six hits with five strikeouts, three walks and two more pickoffs in six innings for the Rays.
Zobrist had a double and two singles for Tampa Bay.
Even though the offense was fairly minimal, the pitching duel that was expected never really materialized. Baker breezed through the first five innings and appeared to be in total control when he went to the dugout on 62 pitches in the middle of the fifth.
"At this point in the season I'm just trying to be smart about it," Baker said. "I almost didn't say anything to be honest with you and just continued to pitch with it. But it just was a little more discomfort than I would have liked to continue to pitch with. It's just a precautionary thing."
Shields needed 105 pitches to get through six, so manager Joe Maddon went to the bullpen to start the seventh.
Shields was in trouble right away, giving up a leadoff single to Revere and a double to Alexi Casilla to give the Twins runners on first and second with nobody out. He struck out Joe Mauer before Revere scored on a groundout by Cuddyer, then ended the inning with a lightning-quick move to pick Casilla off second to escape down just 1-0.
Casilla had company. Shields picked off Rene Tosoni in the fourth, giving him 10 already this year, breaking Joe Kennedy's club record of eight for an entire season set in 2002.
Shields' defense didn't do him any favors in the third inning when right fielder Matt Joyce let a bloop single from Cuddyer get past him, allowing Casilla to score all the way from first base. Revere also scored on the hit, giving Minnesota a 3-0 lead.
Gardenhire took pains to say that Capps was still his closer and will be crucial if the team hopes to get back in the AL Central race.
"We have great fans here and they have a right to boo if they want to," Gardenhire said. "But they'll be cheering him again. He'll get going again."
- Shields leads the majors in pickoffs and is bidding to become the first RHP to lead the big leagues in that category for a full season since Charlie Hough picked off 16 runners for Texas in 1988.
- Valencia committed his 10th error of the season. He had six in 81 games last year.
- Rays 3B Evan Longoria went 0 for 4 and is 1 for 15 in July.