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Twins rally to beat Rays 7-6 on Santana's pinch-hit single in 9th and push win streak to 6

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Carlos Santana's pinch-hit single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning pushed the Minnesota Twins past the Tampa Bay Rays 7-6 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight victory.

Manny Margot and Carlos Correa hit singles off closer Pete Fairbanks (1-3), who had Correa's comebacker glance off his throwing hand and force the Rays to summon Phil Maton. Santana hit a 1-1 curveball into right field to easily score Margot and give the Twins their eighth win in nine games.

“I’m the veteran, so I have a lot of situations, a lot of spots,” said Santana, who delivered his 12th career game-ending hit and is 10 for 24 with 10 RBIs eight games into this homestand. "Days where I don’t play, my mentality is to finish.”

Fairbanks sustained a bruised right thumb. His X-rays were negative.

“Tough situation to put Phil in right there,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “When Pete comes in the game, you're banking he's going to be able to get through that inning one way or the other.”

Max Kepler homered and Ryan Jeffers hit a sacrifice fly for the Twins to tie the game in the fifth, after Brandon Lowe and Josh Lowe hit home runs in the top of the inning for the Rays on each side of a rain delay that lasted an hour and 23 minutes.

Randy Arozarena’s three-run homer in the first off struggling Twins starter Pablo López put the Rays in front. After Willi Castro hit a three-run double with two outs in a four-run fourth inning to ignite the Twins, López promptly let the Rays back in front on Brandon Lowe’s leadoff line drive — through the drops that had just begun to fall — into the seats above right-center field.

With Isaac Paredes facing a 2-2 count and the rain pouring down, home plate umpire Vic Carapazza waved the players off the field as fans scrambled to find the overhangs.

The rain started slowly again in the bottom of the eighth, but lightly enough to play through as the Twins overcame a four-run deficit for the second time in four games.

Jhoan Duran (3-2) pitched the ninth for the win. After Josh Lowe took Jay Jackson deep, Twins relievers retired the last 14 batters.

“When the games are tight, just keep pitching well and make the plays, and then just find a way to score a run," manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Our lineup up and down is doing nice work.”

López allowed seven hits and one walk with three strikeouts. His ERA ballooned to a season-worst 5.67, the highest it’s been since May 10, 2019.

After an All-Star selection in his Minnesota debut last year and two brilliant appearances in the playoffs, including the wild-card series opening win that stopped the record 18-game postseason losing streak, López has stumbled hard this season.

The two-out changeup that Arozarena hit was the first off López to leave the ballpark this year, after throwing it 242 previous times. The most troubling sign for López has been the ineffectiveness of his sweeper he dominated with in 2023. Brandon Lowe hit one of those for the tiebreaking shot in the fifth, adding to the major league -high total of home runs allowed by López (16).

Rays starter Aaron Civale’s winless streak stretched to 12 starts. The Twins were hitless in their first nine at-bats with runners in scoring position, until Castro’s smash down the right-field line and into the corner cleared the bases.

UP NEXT

Rays RHP Taj Bradley (2-4, 4.23 ERA) pitches the middle game of the series on Wednesday night. RHP Joe Ryan (5-5, 3.24 ERA) takes the mound for the Twins.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

Dave Campbell, The Associated Press