Rauch, bullpen falter as Rays rally to beat Twins 5-4; Gardenhire ejected
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins blew the lead twice on Thursday night.
Then, the Tampa Bay Rays made them pay.
Evan Longoria's RBI double off Twins closer Jon Rauch tied the score with two outs in the ninth, and Willy Aybar's single in the 10th brought home the deciding run as the Rays rallied for a 5-4 victory at Target Field.
"Our bullpen's been doing very well, and Rauch has been doing very well," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It just didn't work out."
Carl Crawford scored twice for the Rays (46-32) and finished with four hits, including the two-out single on a Rauch fastball down and away that kept alive the game in the ninth. Longoria followed with a double into the left-field corner on an inside fastball, and Crawford came all the way around from first to tie the game at 4.
"I thought I made good, quality pitches," Rauch said. "The pitch to Crawford was exactly where we wanted it, and he got the end of the bat on it and hit it up the middle, and the pitch to Longoria was a pitch that I felt like I hit the spot I needed to, and I got beat. Sometimes, that happens."
The blown save was Rauch's fourth in 21 opportunities this season and forced Gardenhire to complete the exhaustion of his bullpen -- he'd already used Ron Mahay, Alex Burnett, Jose Mijares and Jesse Crain in the seventh and eighth -- by using Matt Guerrier and Brian Duensing in the 10th.
Pinch hitter Reid Brignac led off the 10th with a single, Kelly Stoppach was hit by a pitch and then Aybar hooked a single into the left-field corner before Guerrier got an out.
Left fielder Delmon Young's throw to third on the play beat Stoppach by more than 10 feet, but third-base umpire Alfonso Marquez inexplicably called Stoppach safe, leading to an argument in which Gardenhire was ejected.
Guerrier and Duensing escaped without further damage, and Gardenhire chose his words carefully after the game, saying only that Marquez told him third baseman Michael Cuddyer missed the tag.
"I felt like I touched his jersey," Cuddyer said. "On replay, it looked like I touched his jersey. I don't know. I don't know what to tell you other than that."
Asked if he could remember another play like it, Cuddyer said, "No, I can't. I can't remember another one. ... Matty got the next two guys out, and Duensing came in and got us another out. So, it didn't affect the score -- but it could have."
It all followed a top of the seventh in which starting pitcher Carl Pavano departed after two walks, with the score tied at 2. Crawford promptly ripped an RBI single on a chest-high, 0-1 fastball from Mahay to give the Rays the lead.
Young answered with a solo homer in the bottom half, and Jason Kubel's sacrifice fly in the eighth brought home Joe Mauer with the go-ahead run. But it was all for naught after the Rays beat Rauch and Guerrier.
Right-hander Scott Baker (6-7, 4.97 ERA) will start against lefty David Price (11-3, 2.44) in the second of this four-game series at 7:10 p.m. Friday.