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Twins Underway Against Tampa Bay. Follow along at Twinkie Town

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - B.J. Upton and Sean Rodriguez both hit a three-run homer and Jeff Niemann pitched seven solid innings, as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Minnesota Twins, 6-4, in the continuation of a four-game series at Tropicana Field.

Niemann (10-3) allowed three runs on eight hits with four strikeouts for the Rays, who have won three straight games and moved into sole possession of first place in the American League East. Tampa Bay has also captured 10 of its last 11 games overall.

Joe Mauer drove in three runs for the Twins, who entered this series with an eight-game win streak but have now lost two straight after dropping Monday's series opener.

With the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh and Twins reliever Matt Guerrier (1-6) on the mound, John Jaso and Matt Joyce drew consecutive one- out pinch-hit walks before Upton stepped to the plate and belted a fastball high over the wall in left field.

Joaquin Benoit pitched a scoreless eighth for the Rays and closer Rafael Soriano came on for a shaky ninth but escaped with his 31st save of the campaign. With two outs and runners on first and third, Mauer ripped a single to right field which brought Minnesota within two. But Soriano induced a game- ending groundout of Delmon Young.

After the Twins opened the scoring in the top of the first on an RBI single by Mauer, the Rays scored three times in the bottom of the frame. Carl Crawford drew a one-out walk and moved to second when Evan Longoria singled to left field. After Willy Aybar lined out, Rodriguez smacked a three-run homer that cleared the wall in center field for a 3-1 Tampa Bay advantage.

Another RBI base hit by Mauer in the third drew the visitors within one. Drew Butera led off with a walk, moved to third on consecutive groundouts and scored on the hit by Mauer.

In the fifth, the Twins had the bases loaded with one out but failed to score. After Mauer was intentionally walked with one out to load the bags, Young flied out to center and Jason Kubel popped out.

Niemann allowed a leadoff single to Michael Cuddyer in the sixth, but Danny Valencia erased it when he grounded into a 5-4-3 double play and Trevor Plouffe struck out.

Butera led off the seventh inning with his second home run of the season for a 3-3 score.

Brian Duensing started on the hill for Minnesota and was charged with three runs on four hits with three strikeouts and four walks over six innings...The Twins stranded nine baserunners...Niemann has won four of his last five decisions...Tampa improved to 5-1 against the Twins this season.

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Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.