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Rays rake four homers in win over Twins

June 4, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- Hank Conger, Steven Souza Jr., Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered to help the Rays to a 7-4 win over the Twins on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.Conger was the first to go deep, hitting a solo shot in the third for Tampa Bay's first hit of the

MINNEAPOLIS -- Hank Conger, Steven Souza Jr., Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered to help the Rays to a 7-4 win over the Twins on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.
Conger was the first to go deep, hitting a solo shot in the third for Tampa Bay's first hit of the game off right-hander Ervin Santana. Souza connected on a go-ahead three-run blast in the fourth before Longoria homered for the third time in as many days with his solo blast in the fifth. Morrison, who also homered Friday, capped it with a two-run shot off the batter's eye in center field in the seventh off reliever Michael Tonkin.
"The difference in the game is that we gave up two two-strike, two-out home runs when we had a chance to get off the field," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The two-run homer off Tonkin and the three-run homer off Ervin, those were the biggest ones of the day."
LoMo's mojo in full swing with 2-run HR
The first three homers came against Santana, who allowed five runs on six hits over six innings. It helped back Rays right-hander Matt Andriese, who surrendered two runs (three earned) on eight hits over five innings. Andriese's day was cut short after a 70-minute rain delay after the top of the sixth inning.
"I thought Matt Andriese was good," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He had one inning where it seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong. To his credit, he kind of held it there."
Sweet 6-4-3 double play: The Twins had Andriese on the ropes when they loaded the bases with one out in the fourth. Andriese fell behind 1-0 to Eduardo Nunez, who fouled off the second pitch. The Rays' right-hander then threw an 86-mph slider. Nunez grounded to Brad Miller at shortstop. He flipped to second baseman Tim Beckham, who stepped on the bag and made a successful relay to first to complete the critical twin-killing.

"That was a huge play," Andriese said. "Honestly, I was out there, and I wouldn't say scuffling, but I was feeling my way through the inning. I knew I needed a ground ball in that situation and made a pitch when I needed to."
Twins struggling to bring home RISP
Stolen bases spark rally: Byron Buxton reached on an error by Miller to open the third, and promptly stole second base. Nunez followed with an infield single to move Buxton over to third. Buxton scored on a sacrifice fly from Joe Mauer, while Nunez stole second and scored on a double to right from Brian Dozier. Nunez also stole second in the first inning, and came around to score on an RBI groundout from Dozier.

Souza's timely blast: Souza entered the game without having homered since May 20 against the Tigers. He stepped to the plate in the fourth with two on and two out. After getting ahead 2-0 in the count, he watched strike one before fouling off strike two to even the count at 2-2. Santana then delivered an 82-mph slider and Souza connected, depositing his 10th home run of the season into the second deck at Target Field to give the Rays a 4-3 lead. According to Statcast™, the exit speed on the blast was 108 mph. More >

Santana hurt by the long ball: Santana, who was coming off a solid start against the A's and had allowed five homers in nine outings this year, gave up three homers for the 18th time in his career. It was the first time he gave up at least three homers in a game since July 10, 2015. The homers to Conger and Longoria came on fastballs, while the go-ahead three-run shot from Souza came on a slider.
"It was just a couple balls I left up," Santana said. "It's difficult because every mistake you make, they're swinging hard and it's going to be hard for us. You can tell by the way they were swinging today."
Longoria homered for the third consecutive game, which was the first time he'd homered in three consecutive games since Aug. 23-25, 2013. All of those homers came against the Yankees in a series played at Tropicana Field.
"I'm just feeling good at the plate and seeing the ball well," Longoria said.

Cash said of Longoria: "Longo, not that this is a priority thing, but Longo's sticking himself right into the All-Star mix with the way he's playing. So good for him. Good for us."
The Rays challenged a safe call in the sixth when Max Kepler struck out and reached first base after strike three got away from Conger. The umpires ruled that Kepler had beaten Conger's throw to first, but after a 53-second delay, the call on the field was overturned.

Rays:Drew Smyly (2-7, 4.77) will get the start on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. ET at Target Field trying to end a three-game losing skid. In his past two starts, the left-hander struggled with his offspeed stuff, which allowed hitters to sit on his fastball. He hopes his work between starts will translate to a better curve and slider, so he'll be able to better keep hitters off balance.
Twins: Right-hander Tyler Duffey (2-4, 4.57 ERA) is set to start in the series finale against the Rays at 1:10 p.m. CT. Duffey has struggled recently, allowing at least five runs in each of his last three starts, posting an 8.47 ERA over that span.
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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](** and listen to his podcast.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005.