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(Friday, April 20th)
Final Score: Minnesota 5, Tampa Bay 4
St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - Josh Willingham smacked the go-ahead three-run double in the seventh inning, lifting the Minnesota Twins to a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a three-game set on Friday.
Joe Mauer added a pair of RBI singles for the Twins, who are 3-3 over their last six contests following a three-game losing streak.
Matt Maloney (1-0) relieved starter Liam Hendricks, who gave up four runs on five hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, in the sixth and tossed a scoreless frame in relief to get the win. Matt Capps earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Evan Longoria had a two-run home run, while Matt Joyce added a solo shot for the Rays, who had their eight-game home regular-season winning streak snapped.
Matt Moore allowed three runs on eight hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings.
"It was a battle there...getting ahead of hitters," Moore said.
The Rays, who registered just one hit over their first four frames, finally got to Hendriks in the home fifth and six.
Matt Joyce's solo homer to right-center field pulled the Rays within 2-1 in the fifth.
Sean Rodriguez led off the sixth with a base hit, Desmond Jennings had a bunt single and Ben Zobrist walked to load the bases. Carlos Pena came up next and grounded into a double play, which plated Rodriguez to tie the game.
Longoria followed and drilled a two-run shot to deep left-center field to make it 4-2.
But the Twins answered with three runs in the visitors' seventh.
Alexi Casilla reached with a one-out single, which chased Moore out of the game. Brandon Gomes (0-1) came on and Denard Span singled, while Jamey Carroll walked to load the bases. With Joel Peralta now pitching for Tampa Bay, Mauer flew out to left field for the second out.
But Willingham came up next and cleared the bases with a slicing opposite field double into the right-center field gap, giving Minnesota a 5-4 lead. The hit allowed Willingham to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest stretch to start a Twins career.
"He's fun to watch," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Willingham. "He's been on the baseball, that's for sure. We went after him [in the offseason] to drive in some runs and hit the ball in the seats, and up to this point he's done pretty much exactly what we were hoping he could do for this offense."
Mauer picked up RBI singles in the visitor's first and fifth to give the Twins a 2-0 advantage.
B.J. Upton made his season debut for the Rays and went 0-for-3. Upton, who had been sidelined with lower back soreness, suffered the injury following an outfield collision with Jennings in a spring training game against Miami on March 14...Minnesota was 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position, while Tampa Bay finished 1-for-3.
04/21 01:37:04 ET