Rays take early toll on Twins

Before Cole De Vries et al. could think about a Twins comeback, Tampa Bay's "ambush" widened an insurmountable lead.

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The rise of the Twins offense since the All-Star break has them believing that no deficit is insurmountable. Righthander Cole De Vries put that to the test on Friday. Quickly.

De Vries' first pitch was hit for a double. His seventh pitch was hit for a two-run homer. Six of the seven hits off him came during the first three pitches of at-bats.

"It was a flat-out ambush job there," De Vries said.

And the fashionably late crowd missed seeing the Twins dig the hole on their way to a 12-6 loss to Tampa Bay at Target Field. De Vries said his stuff and control were off as well. If you match that up with an attack-minded offense, it's going to be a short night.

The Twins entered Friday with a major league-best .285 batting average since the All-Star break, and their 145 runs scored were second-best.

Joe Mauer was 3-for-4 Friday, Denard Span was 2-for-5 and Ryan Doumit hit his 13th homer. But Twins hitters had too much work to do on a night on which De Vries couldn't make adjustments quickly enough.

De Vries (2-3) had pitched at least six innings in three of his past four starts -- including seven innings last Saturday at Boston. But he is winless in his past seven outings, a combination of tough luck and a couple of rough nights like Friday.

"Cole just didn't really have very much," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was up, up, up, and they whacked him. They jumped him early and often. And it went from there."

Tampa Bay outfielder Matt Joyce, who was 2-for-4 with four RBI, hit that two-run homer in the first to open the scoring. Josh Willingham's RBI single in the bottom of the inning made it 2-1.

But the Rays were just digging in against De Vries.

The first five batters of the second inning reached base and scored. All nine Rays hitters went to the plate in the inning, and Joyce ended De Vries' night with a two-run double that drove in Jose Molina and Desmond Jennings. The six-run inning gave Tampa Bay an 8-1 lead.

Gardenhire came out of the dugout and replaced De Vries with Jeff Manship. The 1 1/3 innings pitched by De Vries made it the second-shortest appearance by a Twins starter this season.

"You get knocked around like that early, and it takes the fight out of you a little bit," Gardenhire said. "I still like the fact that our ballclub kept swinging the bat and kept getting after it."

Rays righthander Jeremy Hellickson, the AL Rookie of the Year last season, went five innings for the victory, improving to 7-7.

The Twins tried to make it difficult for him, making him throw 98 pitches over those five innings. But Hellickson had a big lead to work with.

Hellickson, from Des Moines, had a group of about 50 friends and family at Friday's game. And they sure went home pleased.

De Vries went home knowing what he needed to take from his latest outing: nothing.

"This is a 'forget' one," he said. "I don't see anything productive I can take from this one other than working on forgetting about this."

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