Keppinger's grounder in 10th send Rays over Twins
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was satisfied with shortstop Brian Dozier's explanation.
Dozier was able to get only an out at first base on Jeff Keppinger's grounder in the 10th inning, and the go-ahead run scored for the Tampa Bay Rays in what became a 7-3 win Sunday over the Minnesota Twins.
"Everybody has an opinion on where he should have thrown the ball, but I'm going to back my player here," Gardenhire said. "He did what he thought was right."
With the score tied, bases loaded and one out in the 10th, Keppinger sent a slow bouncing ball toward Dozier, who was playing back looking to turn a double play. The speedy Desmond Jennings scored from third.
"A smart infielder makes sure he gets one out right there," Dozier said. "Every shortstop in the league would have done the same thing. I'm not going to be stupid with the baseball."
Ryan Roberts had three hits, including a two-run single in the 10th. Pinch hitter Matt Joyce capped the burst with an RBI double as Tampa Bay matched its longest winning streak of the season at six.
Gardenhire and Dozier talked about the play in the dugout after the half-inning ended.
"It was 100 percent that we weren't going to turn a double play, 100 percent chance you don't get Jennings at the plate," said Dozier, who's had his fielding troubles since being installed as starting shortstop earlier this season. He has 15 errors, more than anyone else on the team.
The Twins wasted another solid performance by Scott Diamond, who didn't have his best control but still managed to go seven innings for the fourth consecutive start. The left-hander allowed three runs on eight hits, two of them homers by Jennings and Keppinger to lead off the first and second innings.
"When I've been getting in trouble early innings, I've still been able to make a pitch and kind of collect myself and continue to work," Diamond said. "Couple double plays we turned today were huge in helping me go as deep as I did."
Kyle Farnsworth (1-3) worked around a one-out single in the ninth to earn his first win since last Aug. 21. Fernando Rodney retired the only batter he faced for his league-leading 36th save in 37 attempts.
Alex Burnett (4-4) took the loss in Minnesota's fifth defeat in a row.
Jennings hit his third career leadoff homer to start the game, giving the Rays at least one first-inning run in all three games of the series at Target Field.
An error by Keppinger at third base set up Justin Morneau's two-run homer in the second. The miscue snapped the Rays' franchise-high tying 10-game errorless streak. Tampa Bay committed three errors in the game.
Span left the game in the top of the seventh, an inning after injuring his right shoulder trying to catch Keppinger's double. The center fielder was taken for a precautionary X-ray.
Rays starter James Shields tied a season low with just two strikeouts, allowing two earned runs and five hits through seven innings.
NOTES: RHP Samuel Deduno (3-0, 3.27 ERA) will start Monday for the Twins as they open a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. Detroit will counter with RHP Anibal Sanchez (6-9, 4.37 ERA). ... 3B Trevor Plouffe, on the disabled list (right thumb) since July 21, is expected to return from his rehab assignment and rejoin Minnesota on Monday. ... Twins RHP Matt Capps, out since July 17 with rotator cuff inflammation, will undergo an MRI on his right shoulder Monday. Capps said he hopes to resume throwing Wednesday and pitch again for the Twins in early September.
Updated August 12, 2012