|Tampa Bay (62-52) «||1||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||4||7||12||3|
MINNEAPOLIS -- Evan Longoria is back on the field, and the Tampa Bay Rays are back in the AL East race.
Jeff Keppinger hit tiebreaking grounder after the All-Star third baseman was intentionally walked in a four-run, 10th inning, and the Rays beat the Minnesota Twins 7-3 Sunday to improve to 6-0 since Longoria returned from a three-month layoff.
"I believe in all these guys," manager Joe Maddon said. "I like the energy with which we're playing."
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Tampa Bay swept consecutive three-game series against Toronto and the Twins, the first time the Rays swept opponents back-to-back since April 12-19, 2010, at Baltimore and Boston. The Rays sent Minnesota to its fifth straight loss, matched their longest winning streak this season and are five games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees, the closest Tampa Bay has been to first place since the morning of June 26.
Longoria missed 85 games because of a partially torn left hamstring and hasn't found his power swing yet, hitting .261 (6 for 23) with a double and four RBIs in his return - all as a designated hitter.
Luke Scott (right oblique) is likely coming back from the disabled list this week, and pitcher Jeff Niemann is on an injury rehabilitation assignment for the reviving Rays.
Tampa Bay, which improved to 4-4 in extra innings this season, broke a 3-all tie after Desmond Jennings singled off Alex Burnett (4-4) leading off the 10th and stole second. B.J. Upton walked and Ben Zobrist sacrificed Jennings to third. After the walk to Longoria loaded the bases, Jeff Keppinger bounced to shortstop Brian Dozier, who appeared to have time to throw home for a forceout or to second in an attempt for a double play. Instead, he threw to first as Tampa Bay took the lead.
"Everybody has an opinion on where he should have thrown the ball, but I'm going to back my player here," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He did what he thought was right."
Dozier wanted to play it safe.
"A smart infielder makes sure he gets one out right there," he said. "Every shortstop in the league would've done the same thing."
Tampa Bay, which overcame three errors, was pleased at the break.
"It's good to have one every once in a while," Jennings said. "I thought he was going to try to turn a double play."
Tyler Robertson relieved and hit Carlos Pena with a pitch, reloading the bases. Ryan Roberts followed with a two-run single off
Casey Fien, his third hit of the game, and pinch-hitter Matt Joyce singled in a run.
Kyle Farnsworth (1-3) worked around a one-out single in the ninth for first win since Aug. 21 against Seattle, and Fernando Rodney retired his only batter for his league-leading 36th save in 37 attempts.
Tampa Bay starter James Shields tied his season low with just two strikeouts, allowing three runs -- two earned -- and five hits in seven innings. He twice stranded runners who reached third with one out.
"Today was a grind," he said. "Our defense wasn't there, but we've had good defense since the [All-Star] break and are playing well."
Minnesota starter Scott Diamond allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings, matching his season highs with two walks and two home runs allowed.
Jennings hit his third career leadoff homer for Tampa Bay and Keppinger homered in the second for a 2-0 lead. Keppinger's error allowed Josh Willingham to reach in the bottom half, and Justin Morneau's two-run homer tied the score.
Denard Span doubled and scored in the third, then left in the seventh with right shoulder pain, an inning after his diving attempt on a ball by Keppinger that wound up as a double. X-rays showed no damage and the Twins said he is day to day.
Consecutive doubles by Roberts and Sean Rodriguez tied the score in the fifth.
Longoria could receive his first day since his return on Monday at Seattle. Maddon said he will wait to decide on Longoria's availability. ... Roberts had his first three-hit game since June 8 while with Arizona. ... Tampa Bay will continue its 10-game trip Monday with RHP Alex Cobb (6-8, 4.32 ERA) opposing RHP Blake Beavan (7-6, 5.12 ERA). ... RHP Samuel Deduno (3-0, 3.27 ERA) will start Monday for the Twins as they open a three-game series against visiting Detroit, which counters with RHP Anibal Sanchez (6-9, 4.37 ERA). ... 3B Trevor Plouffe, on the DL (right thumb) since July 21, is expected to return from his rehab assignment and rejoin Minnesota on Monday. ... Twins RHP Matt Capps, out since July 17 with rotator cuff inflammation, will undergo an MRI on his right shoulder Monday. Capps hopes to resume throwing Wednesday and pitch again for the Twins in early September.
|Players of the Game|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Desmond Jennings, LF||4||2||2||1||1||1||0||.246|
|B.J. Upton, CF||3||1||0||0||2||1||1||.243|
|Ben Zobrist, RF||4||0||2||0||0||1||1||.256|
|Evan Longoria, DH||4||0||1||0||1||1||2||.314|
|Sam Fuld, PR-DH||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.286|
|Jeff Keppinger, 3B||5||1||2||2||0||0||1||.323|
|Carlos Pena, 1B||4||1||0||0||0||1||1||.193|
|Ryan Roberts, 2B||4||1||3||2||1||1||0||.244|
|Sean Rodriguez, SS||3||0||1||1||0||1||0||.209|
|a- Matt Joyce, PH||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||.275|
|Elliot Johnson, SS||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.247|
|Jose Lobaton, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||4||.231|
|a-doubled for S. Rodriguez in the 10th|
|2B - Ben Zobrist (27, Burton), Jeff Keppinger (11, Diamond), Ryan Roberts (12, Diamond), Sean Rodriguez (12, Diamond), Matt Joyce (13, Fien)|
|HR - Desmond Jennings (9, Diamond), Jeff Keppinger (5, Diamond)|
|SH - Ben Zobrist (2), Jose Lobaton (1)|
|RBI - Desmond Jennings (33), Jeff Keppinger 2 (25), Ryan Roberts 2 (40), Sean Rodriguez (30), Matt Joyce (44)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ryan Roberts 2 (21), Matt Joyce (17)|
|SB - Desmond Jennings (21, 2nd base off Burnett/Mauer), B.J. Upton (22, 2nd base off Diamond/Mauer)|
|CS - Ryan Roberts (5, 2nd base by Diamond/Mauer)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Roberts-Pena|
|E - Jeff Keppinger (2, Misplayed grounder), Sean Rodriguez (14, Misplayed grounder), Ben Zobrist (8, Dropped fly)|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Kyle Farnsworth (W,1-3)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||4.26|
|Fernando Rodney (S,36)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.83|
|IBB - Morneau by Joel Peralta|
|Pitches-Strikes - James Shields 99-59, Joel Peralta 17-6, Kyle Farnsworth 9-7, J.P. Howell 18-12, Fernando Rodney 4-2|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James Shields 14-7, Kyle Farnsworth 2-1, J.P. Howell 1-0, Fernando Rodney 1-0|
|Batters Faced - James Shields 29, Joel Peralta 5, Kyle Farnsworth 4, J.P. Howell 4, Fernando Rodney 1|
|Denard Span, CF||3||1||1||0||0||0||1||.287|
|Darin Mastroianni, RF||2||0||0||0||0||0||2||.282|
|Ben Revere, RF-CF||5||0||0||0||0||0||3||.314|
|Joe Mauer, C||4||0||1||1||1||1||1||.316|
|Josh Willingham, DH||4||1||1||0||1||2||1||.261|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||4||1||2||2||1||1||1||.277|
|Ryan Doumit, LF||5||0||1||0||0||0||4||.292|
|Alexi Casilla, 2B||5||0||0||0||0||0||5||.220|
|Brian Dozier, SS||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.234|
|Jamey Carroll, 3B||2||0||1||0||1||0||0||.244|
|2B - Denard Span (31, Shields), Josh Willingham (23, Shields)|
|HR - Justin Morneau (16, Shields)|
|SH - Jamey Carroll (5)|
|RBI - Joe Mauer (58), Justin Morneau 2 (57)|
|2-OUT RBI - Joe Mauer (21)|
|SB - Ben Revere (28, 2nd base off Shields/Lobaton), Joe Mauer (6, 2nd base off Peralta/Lobaton)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|DP - Dozier-Casilla-Morneau, Casilla-Dozier-Morneau, Dozier-Casilla-Morneau|
|Alex Burnett (L,4-4)||0.2||1||3||3||2||0||0||3.25|
|IBB - Longoria by Alex Burnett|
|HBP - S. Rodriguez (by Glen Perkins), Pena (by Tyler Robertson)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Scott Diamond 95-64, Jared Burton 16-10, Glen Perkins 17-8, Alex Burnett 18-7, Tyler Robertson 3-1, Casey Fien 11-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Diamond 8-3, Alex Burnett 2-0, Casey Fien 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Scott Diamond 27, Jared Burton 4, Glen Perkins 5, Alex Burnett 5, Tyler Robertson 1, Casey Fien 3|
|Attendance - 35327|
|Game Time - 3:22|
|Temperature - 68|
|Umpires - Home - Tim McClelland, First Base - Brian Runge, Second Base - Marvin Hudson, Third Base - Jordan Baker|