MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Matt Joyce's pinch-hit grand slam capped a seven-run eighth inning, rallying the Tampa Bay Rays to an 8-6 victory over Minnesota on Saturday and spoiling a big day for Twins slugger Jim Thome.
Thome homered twice to move past Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew into 10th place on the career list. Francisco Liriano struck out 10 and allowed just one run in seven innings, but Minnesota's normally reliable bullpen couldn't hold a 4-1 lead in the eighth.
Thome has 574 home runs, but it was Joyce's first in more than a year that proved the difference.
The Twins scored twice in the ninth on a double by Thome and a single by Denard Span, but Rafael Soriano got Orlando Hudson to ground out for his 20th save in 21 chances.
Carl Crawford had two hits and two RBIs, one of them a single off Jose Mijares in the eighth that cut the lead to 4-2.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire went to Matt Guerrier (1-4) for the fifth time in seven days, and his first two pitches were an RBI single by Evan Longoria and a double by Willy Aybar that tied the game at 4.
Joyce carried a .158 average to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. But his first home run since June 2, 2009, just cleared the wall in center field to complete the comeback.
It was a major disappointment for the largest crowd in Target Field history, which spent the first seven innings of the game giving Thome standing ovations for his achievement.
Thome hit solo homers in the second and fourth to surpass Killebrew, one of the most beloved players in Twins history. Thome drew a curtain call from 40,852 fans after the second homer and a congratulatory message from "The Killer."
"I talked to Jim quite a bit when I was in spring training," Killebrew said from Arizona after Thome's first homer. "I told him, 'Don't feel bad if you pass me up, because I passed up a lot of guys in my career.'"
Liriano dominated for seven innings, striking out every Rays hitter at least once. Gardenhire decided to send Alex Burnett out to start the eighth with Liriano's pitch count at 103, and the bullpen with the lowest ERA in the AL faltered badly.
Burnett and Mijares could not get an out before a gassed Guerrier, who had a 1.93 ERA before Saturday, gave up the deciding runs.
B.J. Upton went 0 for 3 with a walk in his return to the starting lineup after four days off because of a quadriceps injury. It was his first start since a confrontation with Longoria in the Rays' dugout on Sunday.
Randy Choate (1-2) pitched one inning for the win. Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis had another rough outing, giving up four runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings.
Joe Mauer had three hits to get his average back above .300 and Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer for the Twins.
NOTES: Longoria had two hits and an RBI. ... Twins SS J.J. Hardy (wrist) was activated from the disabled list and had two hits, a double and a single. ... Killebrew recently held a charity golf tournament in Arizona for his granddaughter, Caitlyn Mae White. The 9-year-old was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy with WPW Syndrom in May and will need a heart transplant if medication does not work. Those who want to help Killebrew's granddaughter can send donations to The Caitlyn May White Trust, c/o Megan Aubrey, Trustee, 6748 N. Double Eagle Lane, Meridian, ID, 83646.