But left-hander Erik Bedard could only give the Rays four
innings, and their worn-down bullpen couldn't stop the Twins lineup
as Minnesota captured a 9-7 win over Tampa Bay.
With the win, the Twins (11-10) secured their first series victory
at Tropicana Field since Sept. 4-6, 2006.
Twins starter Ricky Nolasco struggled in the second inning and wound
up allowing six runs on 10 hits. But Minnesota got six innings out
of Nolasco (2-2, 6.67 ERA), and the recently untouchable Twins
bullpen held on, surviving the Rays' late rally.
"I thought I did a decent job," Nolasco said. "Look at the line,
it's a lot worse than it should be."
"He gave us everything he had," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
"Pretty good performance, really, against this ball club in this
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, was forced to put the game in the hands of its
overworked bullpen from the fifth inning on.
The Rays' patchwork rotation, now without three of its stars in Alex
Cobb, Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson, has lasted five innings or
less in eight of their last 10 games, forcing the bullpen to pick up
44 1/3 innings during that stretch.
Bedard added to that total Thursday by quickly running up his pitch
count in the first inning, making it somewhat impressive that he
even got through the fourth.
"You've got to get the best out of the people that we have. I still
have a lot of confidence in these guys," Rays manager Joe Maddon
said. "Hopefully it's not much longer, but as long as it needs to,
if they're the best guys that you have to do it, then you've got to
keep going and keep supporting them."
With the Rays trailing by a run and Bedard (0-1, 7.45) done for the
day, reliever Heath Bell began the fifth inning by hitting a batter
then gave up two hits before serving up a three-run blast to
outfielder Aaron Hicks. Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki drove in another
run in the sixth off Bell — this time literally, as his line drive
bounced off the reliever's leg and allowed third baseman Trevor
Plouffe to score.
"I just didn't execute pitches. That's what happens when you don't
execute pitches to a major league team," said Bell, who allowed five
runs in a game for the first time since Sept. 26, 2006. "The Twins
are a really good hitting team. I feel behind, didn't execute
pitches down and they hit me."
Rays first baseman James Loney drove in a run in the sixth, and a
pair of sacrifice flies from center fielder Desmond Jennings and
left fielder Matt Joyce brought the Rays within three runs. Logan
Forsythe knocked a pinch-hit RBI single to center field in the
eighth to further narrow the gap.
But with the bases loaded and a two-run deficit in the eighth
inning, Jennings popped out on a first-pitch fastball from reliever
Jared Burton. Twins closer Glen Perkins then converted his fifth
save in six opportunities with a perfect ninth inning.
Minnesota's bullpen only allowed one run on three hits and two walks
in three innings on Thursday. Over their last 13 games, the Twins
relief corps has posted a 1.30 ERA in 41 2/3 innings.
"We got out [ahead] early and you knew it was going to be one of
those kind of games," Gardenhire said. "You never feel safe, so we
basically threw everything at them we had."
[to top of second column]
Bedard slowly labored through a 41-pitch first inning in which he
walked four batters. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier and first
baseman Joe Mauer walked to lead off the game, then Bedard issued a
two-out walk to designated hitter Josmil Pinto.
Suzuki opened up the scoring, driving in Dozier and Mauer with a
single to left field. Former Rays outfielder Sam Fuld added another
run on a double to the right-field corner to put the Twins ahead
3-0. Bedard walked Hicks before striking out shortstop Pedro
Florimon to end a 22-minute top of the first inning.
The Twins added another run in the second as Bedard walked Dozier
before surrendering singles to Mauer and Plouffe.
But the Rays struck back in the third inning, as Loney doubled in
third baseman Evan Longoria and designated hitter David DeJesus
launched a two-run homer to right field off Nolasco, bringing the
Rays within a run.
"Loved the fight in our team in general," Maddon said. "To come back
like we did, had a chance to actually tie and go ahead (in the
eighth inning), so I love all of that. We just didn't pitch up to
our standards today, and that's why we lost the game."
NOTES: The Twins claimed OF Kenny Wilson off waivers from the
Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday and optioned him to Double-A New
Britain. Wilson hit .210 with a home run and eight RBIs in 15 games
this year for Double-A New Hampshire ... Twins OF Sam Fuld had three
doubles in two games against his former team this series after not
hitting a double all of last year for the Rays. "It just works out
that way. Any time we play against one of our former players, they
have a field day against us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ...
Twins RF Chris Colabello entered Thursday's game tied with Kirby
Puckett (1994) for the most April RBIs in club history, with 26. ...
Tampa Bay has doubled in 22 games to start the season and 37
straight games dating back to last year. ... The Rays will head to
Chicago to face the White Sox on Friday, sending RHP Chris Archer to
the mound to face White Sox RHP Erik Johnson. ... The Twins will
return home to host the Tigers on Friday, with RHP Kevin Correia
facing Tigers RHP Rick Porcello.
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