St. Petersburg, FL – Desmond Jennings hit a two-run homer, Jeff Niemann didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning and the Rays defeated the Twins, 6-2, on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series.
Jennings finished with three runs batted in and B.J. Upton added a pair of RBI for Tampa Bay, which has won five of its last seven games, including the last two of this series.
Niemann (1-2) lasted 5 1/3 innings and was charged with two runs on three hits and two walks in the win.
Francisco Liriano (0-3) gave up five runs on three hits and four walks to suffer the loss and Ryan Doumit had a pinch-hit, two-run single in the sixth inning for Minnesota, which fell to 5-11 on the season.
Though they didn't get a hit until the fourth inning, the Rays managed to push a pair of runs across in the third. Liriano walked Sean Rodriguez and Chris Gimenez to begin the inning before hitting Elliot Johnson to load the bases. Jennings and Ben Zobrist followed with back-to-back sac flys for a 2-0 lead.
Evan Longoria provided the first hit of the game in the fourth when he lifted a high fly ball off of the B ring in left field. The high support beam is considered part of the playing field and Longoria walked into second with a double. He moved to third on a fly out and scored on Upton's sac fly, making it 3-0.
Clete Thomas broke up Niemann's no-hitter with two down in the fifth, but Alexi Casilla struck out to end the inning and Jennings belted a two-run homer to left in the bottom half for a 5-0 lead.
Niemann was pulled in the sixth after allowing consecutive singles to Denard Span and Jamey Carroll, then hitting Josh Willingham with one out to load the bases. Jake McGee struck out Justin Morneau before Wade Davis allowed a single to Doumit, which scored Span and Carroll, with the latter sliding in under the tag to make it 5-2. Danny Valencia grounded out to end the inning.
Upton's sac fly in the eighth capped the scoring and Fernando Rodney tossed a perfect ninth with a pair of strikeouts to seal the Tampa Bay win.
The Rays are in the midst of a stretch of 26 games in 27 days. Their lone day off in that span comes on Monday...Willingham went 0-for-2. He had hit safely in the Twins' first 15 games of the season, which tied a club record (Kirby Puckett, 1994).