Longoria homers again, Rays beat Twins 7-4
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Even during a rough few weeks for the Tampa Bay Rays, Evan Longoria has managed to put himself on track for a potential career season.
Longoria homered for the third straight game Saturday, and Matt Andriese (4-0) worked five innings in a rain-shortened start to pick up his fourth win as the Rays beat the Minnesota Twins 7-4.
It's the first time since August 2013 Longoria has homered in three consecutive games, and he entered Saturday on pace for career highs in home runs and extra-base hits.
''Not that this is the priority thing, but Longo's sticking himself right into the All-Star mix the way he's playing,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ''So, good for him, good for us.''
Longoria's fifth-inning home run was one of four for the Rays on a cloudy day, and the second of three allowed by Twins starter Ervin Santana (1-5). Steven Souza Jr.'s three-run shot off Santana in the fourth put the Rays ahead for good, and Logan Morrison's two-run homer in the seventh against Michael Tonkin put the game out of reach to give Tampa Bay its second consecutive win.
''There's some other guys that are doing some things, but obviously he's right at the forefront of it,'' Cash said of Longoria.
The Rays are still recovering from losing eight of 10 over the past few weeks. Nothing like a game against the Twins, who are second-worst in the majors with 78 homers allowed, to get the offense flowing. Even Hank Conger - who came in hitting .188 with one homer - had a solo shot in the third.
''We've just got to start winning some games, get the feeling back and just bring some of the energy back to the clubhouse,'' Longoria said. ''It's really tough to create that without winning.''
Brian Dozier drove in a pair of runs for the last-place Twins, and Eduardo Nunez also had two hits and scored two runs. Santana worked six innings and allowed five runs off six hits and three walks. Joe Mauer had an RBI single off Alex Colome in the ninth after Tyler Sturdevant allowed two batters to reach with two outs. Colome, who picked up his 14th save, ended any hope of a rally by striking out Dozier.
Santana looked sharp early before Souza's two-out homer with runners on the corners. Minnesota was leading 3-1 when Souza sent a high slider from Santana an estimated 405 feet into the left-field seats.
''He did give up the three home runs, but the difference in the game is we gave up two, two-out, two-strike home runs with a chance to get off the field,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Santana.
BIG DOUBLE PLAY
Andriese allowed three runs, one unearned, off eight hits through five innings - his shortest start this season, thanks in part to a 70-minute rain delay in the sixth. He nearly gave the lead right back after Souza's homer in the bottom half of the inning, but worked out of a bases-loaded jam by inducing Nunez into a double play.
''That was a huge play honestly,'' Andriese said. ''I was trying to feel my way through the inning and I knew I needed a groundball in that situation and made a pitch when I needed to, that was clutch.''
Longoria provided some insurance the next inning with his 12th homer.
The Twins held a moment of silence for Muhammad Ali before the game. Earlier in the morning, Molitor told reporters he met the boxing great only once - during 1992's Super Bowl XXVI in Minneapolis. ''No real interaction other than the pleasure of saying I got to shake a legend's hand,'' the Hall of Famer said.
Rays: DH Steve Pearce went 1 for 4 in his return to the lineup after missing three straight games with right elbow tendinitis. Manager Kevin Cash said he would check in with Pearce after the game to determine how to use him Sunday. ''If he needs to DH, he'll DH,'' Cash said. ''But our lineup works better with him in the field, obviously. We'll talk and see how he gets through these at-bats today.''
Twins: GM Terry Ryan said closer Glen Perkins (shoulder) did well throwing a bullpen session before the game. ''So far, so good,'' Ryan said, adding Perkins would throw another session Tuesday. ''It's a good sight,'' Molitor said to reporters while watching a live video feed of Perkins' session from his clubhouse office. . Ryan said pitching prospect Alex Meyer was headed to the DL on Saturday with shoulder inflammation. Meyer hasn't pitched since being optioned to Triple-A Rochester last month and is seeking a second opinion on his injury.
Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (2-7) will try to end his three-game losing streak in Sunday's series finale against the Twins. Smyly is 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA in 15 games against Minnesota.
Twins: RHP Tyler Duffey (2-4) makes his eighth start of the season in Sunday's finale. Duffey threw only 4 2/3 innings - his shortest start of the season - and allowed five runs off 10 hits in his previous start, May 31 in Oakland.
This version corrects that the Twins have allowed the second-most homers in the majors with 78, not the most.