Posted August 11, 2012 on AP on Fox
B.J. Upton hit two home runs, Matt Joyce also homered, and David Price earned his 15th victory as the Tampa Bay Rays stretched their winning streak to five by beating the Minnesota Twins 4-2 on Saturday night. Ben Zobrist went 3-for-4 for the Rays, who have won 10 of 13 and kept pace in the AL East and AL wild card races. Tampa Bay is on its longest winning streak since a six-game run from April 29-May 4. Price (15-4) held the Twins to two runs and seven hits in seven innings. He has worked at least seven innings in 10 consecutive starts. Brian Dozier homered, and Justin Morneau had two hits for the Twins. Price, who moved into a share of the major league lead in victories with Jared Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels and R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets, hasn't lost since June 13. He is 7-0 with a 2.10 ERA in that span. The Rays led 3-0 before Price threw his first pitch, and he never faced more than five batters in an inning. Joel Peralta pitched a scoreless eighth inning for Tampa Bay. Fernando Rodney faced the heart of the Twins lineup and recorded a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 35th save in 36 opportunities. Tampa Bay didn't need much time - or many pitches - to jump to an early lead against Nick Blackburn (4-8). After Desmond Jennings singled to lead off the game, Upton immediately followed with a homer to left-center field. Joyce, the third batter of the game, then hit an upper-deck home run to right field that gave the Rays a 3-0 lead seven pitches into the game. While Blackburn settled down, he was again unable to pitch deep into the game. Blackburn, who gave up four runs and 11 hits in six-plus innings, has gotten through the seventh inning only once in 18 starts this season. The only time the Twins threatened against Price was in the second when they strung together three hits to start the inning. Josh Willingham scored on Darin Mastroianni's infield single, but Price induced Dozier to ground into a double play, and got Drew Butera to ground out to end the inning. Upton stretched Tampa Bay's lead to 4-1 with a solo homer to center field in the fifth. It was Upton's third multi-homer game in the majors. Dozier cut the Twins' deficit to 4-2 in the fifth with his sixth homer of the season. The Twins had a chance to cut into Tampa Bay's lead in the seventh after Morneau and Mastroianni singled. But Price, who struck out five and didn't walk a batter, answered by striking out Dozier and Ryan Doumit to end the inning. NOTES: Rays manager Joe Maddon used the same lineup on Saturday as he did on Friday. It was only the fourth time this season Tampa Bay had identical lineups in consecutive games. ... Maddon said he will decide whether to play 3B Evan Longoria on Sunday morning. Longoria, who missed more than three full months with a partially torn left hamstring, has played five consecutive games upon his return from the disabled list. ... RH James Shields (10-7, 4.08 ERA) will start Sunday for the Rays. He has given up only one run and five hits over his past two starts. Minnesota will counter with Scott Diamond (10-5, 2.91 ERA), its most consistent pitcher recently. ... Twins OF Denard Span wasn't in the lineup. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he wanted to give Span a day off, but Price's success against left-handed hitters was also a factor. ... With their eighth sellout of the year, the Twins passed the 2 million mark in attendance. ... Upton extended his hitting streak to eight games.
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