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Longoria, Zobrist pace Rays in win over Twins

Minnesota Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar jumps over Tampa Bay Rays first baseman James Loney (21) after making the force out on Friday. USA Today Sports

MINNEAPOLIS – Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins had equal opportunities to push runs across Friday at Target Field. It was the visitors who took advantage, though.

Evan Longoria’s bases-loaded double and Ben Zobrist’s two-run homer provided right-hander Alex Cobb with the offense he needed in a 6-2 Rays win.

With the game scoreless in top of the third, Tampa Bay loaded the bases with one out for designated hitter Matt Joyce. Twins starter Kyle Gibson got Joyce to foul out behind third, bringing up Rays’ third baseman Longoria in a big spot with two away. Longoria came through, crushing a 2-0 fastball from Gibson off the wall in right, clearing the bases and giving Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead.

“I’ve been getting picked up this whole season, so it was good to finally return the favor,” Longoria said. “Joyce has been swinging the bat really well for us, especially in those situations.”

Longoria, who had a disappointing first half, hitting .257 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs, said he was excited to come up with an opportunity to get his second half rolling in the right direction.

“That’s what can really start to breed confidence,” Longoria said. “It was a good time for me to be able to do that and have a new slate here in the second half.”

Zobrist’s seventh homer of the season barely cleared the right-field overhang, but the left fielder’s blast gave the Rays a 5-2 lead in the fifth inning.

The Twins had a bases-loaded chance of their own in the sixth, getting a hit batter and a walk to put runners on first and second with two outs, knocking Cobb from the game. His replacement, righty Brad Boxberger, walked the first man he faced to load the bases but got center fielder Danny Santana to ground out to third base to end the threat.

“That’s that tipping point moment,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He comes in and gets four big outs there.”

Cobb earned the win (5-6), going 5 2/3 innings and allowing two runs on five hits and a pair of walks. His only blemish was a two-run homer served up to Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the bottom of the third inning.

Gibson was roughed up by the Rays for the second time this season, allowing six runs, all earned, on nine hits and a walk over 6 1/3 innings, dropping to 8-8 on the year. He has allowed 13 runs on 19 hits in 9 1/3 innings over two starts – both losses – against TampaBay this season.

“Really I got beat by three, four pitches tonight,” Gibson said. “I leave a 2-0 fastball down the middle to Longoria. And then I ended up doing the same thing to Zobrist later on; 3-1, good hitter, I can’t leave a pitch right down the middle in that situation.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Gibson, pitching in only his second full major league season, is learning how to become more consistent. Since the start of May, Gibson has three outings where he’s allowed at least six runs. He’s also gone at least six shutout innings on four occasions over that same span.

“He’s trying to learn to pitch without his best stuff all the time – we talked about that beforehand,” Gardenhire said. “I thought the ball was coming out of his hand pretty decent tonight. That’s a tough lineup with some veteran hitters over there.”

Boxberger struck out three batters over 1 1/3 innings of relief. Grant Balfour and Jake McGee also worked scoreless innings for the Rays.

TB ab r h bi MIN ab r h bi

Jnnings cf 2 1 1 0 Santana cf 5 0 1 0

Zobrist lf 3 2 1 2 Dozier 2b 4 1 1 0

Joyce dh 4 0 1 1 Morales 1b 4 0 1 0

Longori 3b 4 0 2 3 Plouffe 3b 4 1 1 2

Loney 1b 4 0 3 0 Arcia rf 4 0 0 0

Escobar ss 4 0 0 0 Wllnghm dh 3 0 0 0

Figuroa 2b 4 0 0 0 Suzuki c 3 0 0 0

Casali c 4 1 1 0 Escobar ss 3 0 2 0

Kirmair rf 4 2 2 0 Fuld lf 2 0 0 0

Nunez ph 1 0 0 0

Totals 33 6 11 6 Totals 33 2 6 2

Tampa Bay 003 020 100 — 6

Minnesota 002 000 000 — 2

LOB—Minnesota 9, Tampa Bay 5. 2B—Longoria (14). HR—Plouffe (7), Zobrist (7).


Tampa Bay

Cobb W, 5-6 5 X\c 5 2 2 2 2

Boxberger H, 8 1 Z\c 0 0 0 1 3

Balfour 1 0 0 0 0 1

McGee 1 1 0 0 0 3


Gibson L, 8-8 6 Z\c 9 6 6 1 1

Guerrier 0 1 0 0 1 0

Swarzak 1 X\c 1 0 0 0 0

Burton 1 0 0 0 1 0

Inherited runners-scored—Boxberger 2-0, Guerrier 1-1, Swarzak 2-0. HBP—Dozier, K.Suzuki (by Cobb).

Umpires—Home, Hunter Wendelstedt; First, Mike DiMuro; Second, Gabe Morales; Third, Mike Estabrook.

T—3:4. A—31,058 (42,035)