Nolasco's solid start not enough as Twins fall 4-2 to Rays
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Ricky Nolasco did his job for the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
He didn't get much help from the team's offense.
Brad Miller hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning, and the Tampa Bay Rays ended a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over the Twins.
Evan Longoria hit his second homer in as many games for the Rays, who won for just the third time in 14 games. Logan Morrison added a ninth-inning homer.
Erasmo Ramirez (7-4) and Xavier Cedeno combined for 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for Tampa Bay, and Alex Colome labored to get five outs for his 13th save in as many tries.
Nolasco (2-4) allowed three runs - two earned - and scattered six hits while throwing a season-high 7 2/3 innings for the Twins. No Minnesota pitcher has three wins.
''We didn't back him up, particularly offensively, tonight. He's feeling good and hopefully he'll build off an outing like that,'' manager Paul Molitor said.
Taylor Motter hit a bloop single with one out in the eighth, Hank Conger singled to right field and Motter took third when Max Kepler bobbled the ball for an error. Two batters later, Miller singled up the middle.
''Tough one to swallow with the ground ball getting through,'' Nolasco said. ''I thought I made the right pitch. Didn't work out tonight, but I did everything I could do.''
Miller said Nolasco wasn't giving up much to the Tampa bay hitters and just hoped to square something up.
''He mixed everything,'' he said. ''I think his slider was really working. . We weren't able to much going and he kept his team in the game.''
Minnesota loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom half, but Kepler, playing in just his 15th major league game, struck out, and Morrison homered off Brandon Kintzler in the ninth. With two runners on and one out in the bottom half, Joe Mauer lined out and Brian Dozier flied out.
''Young guy gets a chance to get a big hit late in the game, it's just something with experience,'' Molitor said. ''You can get sped up.''
Minnesota was 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. The Twins have stranded 47 runners and have a .149 RISP average (7 for 47) in their last five games.
Longoria hit his team-leading 11th homer in the first, but Nolasco retired the next 10 Rays batters before Steven Souza doubled leading off the fifth. Souza scored on Mikie Mahtook's sacrifice fly.
''I just made it a point to get ahead of these guys and use their aggressiveness to my advantage,'' said Nolasco, who threw 19 first-pitch strikes.
Minnesota tied the score in the third when Byron Buxton led off with a triple - getting from home to third in 10.69 seconds - and scored on a Dozier's groundout. Trevor Plouffe added an RBI single.
Tampa Bay's Jake Odorizzi threw a career-high 120 pitches in six innings, yet allowed just two earned runs and five hits while striking out six.
Twins: On the disabled list since April 23 with a right shoulder strain, RHP Kyle Gibson was scheduled to return to the Minnesota rotation Thursday but was scratched with lower back pain. However, he threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Thursday. Gibson is to start for Triple-A Rochester on Sunday. . An MRI on RF Miguel Sano's injured left hamstring showed a moderate strain. The slugger was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, but general manager Terry Ryan expects him to be out longer.
Rays: RHP Matt Andriese (3-0, 2.36) won his first three starts after being called up from Triple-A Durham on May 8 but received a no decision in his last two outings. Monday in Kansas City he allowed one earned run and five hits over seven innings.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (1-4, 4.13) looks to build off last Monday's quality start at Oakland when he allowed three earned runs in seven innings. However, in his past three starts he has allowed 11 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings.