Minneapolis, MN – B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce homered in a three-run first inning, helping David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-2, at Target Field.
Upton finished with a pair of homers and drove in three runs for the Rays, who have won five straight at a critical juncture to get back into the AL Wild Card race. Ben Zobrist added three hits in the victory.
Price (15-4) won his seventh straight decision, giving up two runs and seven hits in seven solid innings. Fernando Rodney locked down his 35th save with a perfect ninth inning.
"Obviously, the three runs in the first make my job a lot easier," Price said. "I just wanted to go out there and was just trying to throw strikes. I'll take the win, absolutely."
Brian Dozier homered for the Twins, losers of three straight. Nick Blackburn (4-8) was saddled with the loss after giving up four runs on 11 hits and a walk in six-plus frames.
"He has a very good fastball," Dozier said of Price. "He comes at you like a bulldog. Three plus pitches. He gave them seven strong innings and we fell behind. It's tough to hit your way back into it against a guy like that."
All the offense Tampa Bay needed to support Price on Saturday came not only in the opening inning, but with the first three batters.
Desmond Jennings laced the first pitch of the game into center for a single, and Upton provided a 2-0 lead with a homer one pitch after attempting to bunt.
Joyce went back-to-back with his 14th homer of the season, and Price went to work from there.
He got into a little jam in the second, when Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau singled consecutively to start the inning. Willingham scored on Darin Mastroianni's infield hit, but Price induced a double play to prevent further damage and preserve a two-run lead.
Price got through the next two innings without a baserunner, and Upton restored the three-run margin with a two-out solo homer in the fifth.
It's the third career multi-homer game for Upton and the first since April 14, 2010.
Dozier's solo shot in the fifth brought the Twins back to within two, but Price was able to slam the door shut on Minnesota. The Twins put runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but Price struck out Dozier and Ryan Doumit to maintain the lead.
Joel Peralta and Rodney combined to retire the final six Minnesota batters in order to close out the victory.
The Rays have won all five games since Evan Longoria returned from the disabled list, though he went 0-for-4 on Saturday...Tampa Bay is 205-204 all- time in the month of August, the only month in which the franchise is .500 or better...The Rays haven't committed an error in 10 straight games, tying a club record.