ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)Michael Wacha struck out seven over six innings, Kevin Kiermaier had an RBI triple during a three-run second and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Minnesota Twins 5-3 on Friday night.
The AL East-leading Rays had lost two straight following a nine-game winning streak. Tampa Bay is 32-13 since the All-Star break.
”We control our own destiny,” Kiermaier said. ”That’s a beautiful thing. It’s going be a lot of fun to be a part of this last month and just see what we’re about. We’re in a great position, we know what’s at stake.”
Wacha (3-4) gave up two runs and three hits, including two homers. He was 0-2 with a 6.99 ERA in his previous eight starts.
”It was a great outing,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ”His stuff looked really, really crisp. He went through a rough patch where things probably didn’t go his way, maybe not the luckiest at times.”
Andrew Kittredge, the third Tampa Bay reliever, worked the ninth to get his sixth save.
The Rays have held opponents to three or fewer runs an AL-best 71 times.
Jorge Polanco and Ryan Jeffers homered for the Twins.
Randy Dobnak (1-7), making his first start since June 19 after being sidelined by a right middle finger strain, allowed five runs and six hits over seven innings. The right-hander retired his final 15 batters.
”Randy’s in a good spot,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. ”He’s healthy, he’s built up. He needs to pitch, he needs to get out there and log some innings. There’s a lot to be gained from him just taking the mound from here on out for the rest of the season.”
Austin Meadows doubled leading off the second, went to third on a wild pitch and came home on Randy Arozarena’s broken-bat grounder. Kiermaier hit his triple and scored to make it 3-1 on Yandy Diaz’s grounder.
Nelson Cruz, acquired from Minnesota in July, had a run-scoring double, and Meadows picked up his 94th RBI with a single that put Tampa Bay ahead 5-1 in the third.
Polanco connected on his career-high 25th homer in the first. Only Chili Davis, with 29 in 1991, has more homers as a switch-hitter in a season in Twins history.
Jeffers had a fifth-inning solo drive. Polanco got the Twins within 5-3 in the eighth on an RBI double down the left-field line that Meadows appeared to over slide.
Rays SS Wander Franco didn’t play, one day after leaving Thursday’s game against Boston with a headache.
Cash said tests were negative and anticipates the 20-year old will be back within a game or two.
Twins CF Byron Buxton made a leaping catch at the wall on Francisco Mejia’s fourth-inning drive, and RF Max Kepler had a tumbling catch on Cruz’s liner during the fifth. Minnesota SS Andrelton Simmons made a diving grab on Mejia’s second-inning grounder but was unable to throw him out from his knees. Simmons was checked by a trainer and stayed in the game until he was pinch-hit for in the eighth. Baldelli said Simmons is OK.
Cruz is the godfather for Twins 1B Miguel Sano’s recently born daughter.
”It’s an honor,” Cruz said.
Twins: RHP Michael Pineda (left oblique strain) is scheduled to follow RHP Bailey Ober in his start early next week.
Rays: Cash said closer Nick Anderson (sprained right elbow) is trending in the right direction on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham.
Twins LHP Andrew Albers (1-0) will start Saturday and is coming off a win over Milwaukee on Aug. 27 in his first start since Sept. 30, 2017 with Seattle. The 35-year old, who spent parts of 2013 and 2016 with Minnesota, hadn’t won a game for the Twins since Aug. 12, 2013.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (0-1) will make his third start after missing four months with right forearm tightness.
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