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Tampa Bay's Johnny Damon watches is 10th-inning, two-run home run off Minnesota relief pitcher Matt Capps.

Chris O'Meara, Associated Press

Tampa Bay 4, Twins 3: Two closers blow two saves

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • April 15, 2011 - 12:40 AM

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Twins righthander Carl Pavano had retired 11 consecutive hitters Thursday before Matt Joyce got the Rays' first hit, a one-out single in the fifth.

In eight innings, Pavano held Tampa Bay scoreless on four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. He told manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson that he was out of gas and left the game with a 2-0 lead.

Joe Nathan and Matt Capps both had chances to close the game out, but both failed.

With one out in the ninth, Nathan gave up a bloop double to Felipe Lopez that the Twins fielders might have lost in the roof. After a walk to Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce lined a two-run double to right-center to tie the game at 2-2.

In the 10th, Danny Valencia's two-out, two strike single drove in Matt Tolbert to put the Twins up 3-2. In came Capps.

Sam Fuld singled to right with one out, then Johnny Damon lined a knee-high fastball over the fence in right. Game over, 4-3 final.

Who would have thought that two relievers with 359 saves and five All-Star Games between them could falter in the same game? Nathan is coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery but hit 94 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun Thursday.

"Those things happen," Pavano said. "I'll take my chances with either one of them. Everyone has those days. I had plenty of them."

Batting, playing second

With Joe Mauer joining Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the disabled list, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has been pressed for a No.  2 hitter.

Wednesday, Matt Tolbert batted second and went 2-for-5.

Thursday, Gardenhire looked at his list of available players and came up with Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer started in the No. 2 spot in the lineup for the first time since July 30, 2005, when he went 1-for-3 against Boston's David Wells.

"Really, we don't have many options,'' Gardenhire said.

Gardenhire pointed out that Alexi Casilla needs to remain the No. 9 hitter until we gets his swing going, Mauer's backup, Drew Butera, is not a good fit at second, and the other middle-of-the-order hitters need to stay where they are, the manager said.

So he turned to Cuddyer, the player he's turned to when needed to fill in all over the infield and outfield.

"As we said all along, he's the most movable around guy on our team," Gardenhire said. "He can do just about anything. Put him up there and we'll go from there. He's better when he shoots the ball the other way, anyway."

Instant replay

According to a report, baseball is on the verge of expanding replay for the 2012 season so fair or foul balls that aren't home runs and balls that are trapped could be subject to review. The Twins were directly affected by two of those scenarios in the past two postseasons.

In the 2009 playoffs, Mauer's liner down the left-field line at Yankee Stadium was ruled foul by umpire Phil Cuzzi when replays showed it was fair.

In Game 1 last fall at Target Field, Delmon Young was given a single on a line drive it appeared Yankees right fielder Greg Golson caught for the final out.

"All anybody wants, the umpires and us, is to make sure we get the call right,'' Gardenhire said. "The one thing you don't want is the game to last longer, looking at all the replays and going deeper into the night.''

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