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Associated Press, Published August 12 2012

Rays top Twins in extra innings for series sweep

MINNEAPOLIS – Evan Longoria is back on the field, and the Tampa Bay Rays are back in the AL East race.

Jeff Keppinger hit a tiebreaking grounder after the All-Star third baseman was intentionally walked in a four-run, 10th inning, and the Rays beat the Minnesota Twins 7-3 Sunday to improve to 6-0 since Longoria returned from a three-month layoff.

“I believe in all these guys,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I like the energy with which we’re playing.”

Tampa Bay swept consecutive three-game series against Toronto and the Twins, the first time the Rays swept opponents back-to-back since April 12-19, 2010, at Baltimore and Boston. The Rays sent Minnesota to its fifth straight loss, matched their longest winning streak this season and are five games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees, the closest Tampa Bay has been to first place since the morning of June 26.

Longoria missed 85 games because of a partially torn left hamstring and hasn’t found his power swing yet, hitting .261 (6 for 23) with a double and four RBIs in his return – all as a designated hitter.

Luke Scott (right oblique) is likely coming back from the disabled list this week, and pitcher Jeff Niemann is on an injury rehabilitation assignment for the reviving Rays.

Tampa Bay, which improved to 4-4 in extra innings this season, broke a 3-all tie after Desmond Jennings singled off Alex Burnett (4-4) leading off the 10th and stole second. B.J. Upton walked and Ben Zobrist sacrificed Jennings to third. After the walk to Longoria loaded the bases, Jeff Keppinger bounced to shortstop Brian Dozier, who appeared to have time to throw home for a forceout or to second in an attempt for a double play. Instead, he threw to first as Tampa Bay took the lead.

“Everybody has an opinion on where he should have thrown the ball, but I’m going to back my player here,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He did what he thought was right.”

Dozier wanted to play it safe.

“A smart infielder makes sure he gets one out right there,” he said. “Every shortstop in the league would’ve done the same thing.”

Tampa Bay, which overcame three errors, was pleased at the break.

“It’s good to have one every once in a while,” Jennings said. “I thought he was going to try to turn a double play.”

Tyler Robertson relieved and hit Carlos Pena with a pitch, reloading the bases. Ryan Roberts followed with a two-run single off

Casey Fien, his third hit of the game, and pinch-hitter Matt Joyce singled in a run.

Kyle Farnsworth (1-3) worked around a one-out single in the ninth for first win since Aug. 21 against Seattle, and Fernando Rodney retired his only batter for his league-leading 36th save in 37 attempts.

Tampa Bay starter James Shields tied his season low with just two strikeouts, allowing three runs – two earned – and five hits in seven innings. He twice stranded runners who reached third with one out.

“Today was a grind,” he said. “Our defense wasn’t there, but we’ve had good defense since the (All-Star) break and are playing well.”

Tampa Bay Minnesota

ab r h bi ab r h bi

DJnngs lf 4 2 2 1 Span cf 3 1 1 0

BUpton cf 3 1 0 0 Mstrnn rf 2 0 0 0

Zobrist rf 4 0 2 0 Revere rf-cf 5 0 0 0

Longori dh 4 0 1 0 Mauer c 4 0 1 1

Fuld pr-dh 0 1 0 0 Wlngh dh 4 1 1 0

Kppngr 3b 5 1 2 2 Mornea 1b 4 1 2 2

C.Pena 1b 4 1 0 0 Doumit lf 5 0 1 0

RRorts 2b 4 1 3 2 ACasill 2b 5 0 0 0

SRdrgz ss 3 0 1 1 Dozier ss 4 0 0 0

Joyce ph 1 0 1 1 JCarrll 3b 2 0 1 0

EJhnsn ss 0 0 0 0

Loaton c 4 0 0 0

Totals 36 7 12 7 Totals 38 3 7 3

Tampa Bay 110 010 000 4— 7

Minnesota 021 000 000 0— 3

E—Keppinger (2), S.Rodriguez (14), Zobrist (8). DP—Tampa Bay 1, Minnesota 3. LOB—Tampa Bay 8, Minnesota 10. 2B—Zobrist (27), Keppinger (11), R.Roberts (3), S.Rodriguez (12), Joyce (13), Span (31), Willingham (23). HR—De.Jennings (9), Keppinger (5), Morneau (16). SB—De.Jennings (21), B.Upton (22), Revere (28), Mauer (6). CS—R.Roberts (2). S—Zobrist, Lobaton, J.Carroll.

IP H R ER BB SO

Tampa Bay

Shields 7 5 3 2 1 2

Jo.Peralta 1 0 0 0 2 1

Farnsworth W,1-3 1 1 0 0 0 0

Howell Xc 1 0 0 1 1

Rodney S,36-37 Zc 0 0 0 0 0

Minnesota

Diamond 7 8 3 3 2 6

Burton 1 1 0 0 0 2

Perkins 1 0 0 0 1 0

Al.Burnett L,4-4 Xc 1 3 3 2 0

T.Robertson 0 0 1 1 0 0

Fien Zc 2 0 0 0 0

T.Robertson pitched to 1 batter in the 10th.

HBP—by Perkins (S.Rodriguez), by T.Robertson (C.Pena).

T—3:22. A—35,327 (39,500).