Niemann, Zobrist lead Rays over Twins for the sweepApr 29, 2011 - 4:07 AM
Zobrist, who had a team-record eight RBI in a 15-3 romp in the opener, added a single, double and two-run homer in the nightcap. John Jaso chipped in a solo home run and run-scoring double in the Rays' fifth straight win overall.
Niemann (1-3) wound up going seven frames and allowed just one run on two hits and a walk to pick up his first win of the year.
Anthony Swarzak (0-1), recalled from Triple-A Rochester to make a spot start, was touched for five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 frames for the Twins, who had won three straight coming into the series.
Zobrist more than doubled his season RBI total in this three-game series, knocking in 12 over the first 22 games before a memorable 13-RBI showing in two days against the Twins.
He kept his hot bat going with a two-run blast into the first row of seats in right field in the second inning, and Jaso's shot to right in the fourth made it 3-0.
The Rays tacked on two more in the sixth, as Zobrist singled leading off, moved to third on Casey Kotchman's base hit and scored on Sean Rodriguez's fielder's choice grounder. Jaso then greeted Glen Perkins with an RBI double, and the run support was more than enough for Niemann.
The only baserunner the Rays' starter allowed in the first five innings -- Justin Morneau via a walk -- was erased on Michael Cuddyer's double-play ball.
Niemann had just 64 pitches through six innings, but Denard Span worked a full count leading off the seventh and fisted a looping base hit out of Elliot Johnson's reach at short to end the no-hit bid.
"I wish I could have broken up the no-hitter in the first inning," Span joked. "They already whopped on us these two days, and we didn't want them leaving town with a no-hitter."
Span eventually scored on a Morneau single, but the Rays got the run back in their next at-bat when Rodriguez singled home Zobrist, who doubled to open the inning.
Joel Peralta and Juan Cruz each hurled a scoreless inning of relief for Tampa to close out the win.
"We played well in all components of the game. The pitching was great, the defense was spectacular and we started hitting the ball with more regularity," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That's about as well as we've played for three consecutive games this year."
Tampa Bay's Johnny Damon went 1-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 16 games, while Minnesota's Jason Kubel went 0-for-4 to snap a 10-game streak...Swarzak, pitching on three days' rest, had not seen action in the majors since August 20, 2009...The Rays host the Angels for a three-game weekend series, while the Twins head to Kansas City for a three-game set against the Royals.
- TAMPA BAY: 6
Apr 28 10:39 PM
- John Jaso grounded into a double play, first to short to first to end the inning.
Rays 6, Twins 1 Mid 8Apr 28 10:10 PM
- Michael Cuddyer grounded out first to pitcher to end the inning.
Rays 5, Twins 1 End 7Apr 28 10:04 PM
- John Jaso double to left center scored Sean Rodriguez with one out. Runner on second with one out and Elliot Johnson due up.
Rays 5, Twins 0 Top 6, 1 OutApr 28 9:33 PM
- Sean Rodriguez fielder's choice to third scored Ben Zobrist with one out. Runner on first with one out and John Jaso due up.
Rays 4, Twins 0 Top 6, 1 OutApr 28 9:28 PM
- John Jaso two-out, solo Home Run (2) to right. Elliot Johnson due up.
Rays 3, Twins 0 Top 4, 2 OutsApr 28 8:58 PM
- Ben Zobrist none-out, two-run Home Run (7) to right scored Matt Joyce. Casey Kotchman due up.
Rays 2, Twins 0 Top 2, 0 OutsApr 28 8:24 PM
- TAMPA BAY: 0
Top 1, 0 Outs
Apr 28 8:10 PM
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