MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins rallied late, keyed by a game-tying RBI triple from Danny Santana, and a go-ahead sacrifice fly from Brian Dozier in the seventh inning in a 3-2 win over the Rays on Friday night at Target Field.
With the Twins trailing by a run in the seventh, Aaron Hicks led off with a single before Santana tripled into the corner in right field to score Hicks. It knocked Rays starter Jake Odorizzi from the game, as reliever Kevin Jepsen was brought in and promptly gave up the go-ahead sac fly to Dozier. It was the second RBI for Dozier, who also hit a homer in the third.
"He's been swinging the bat well," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He took advantage of a high fastball. The last at-bat was big. We've had a brief period here of not cashing in with guys at third with less than two outs. But he took that first-pitch that was a borderline strike but then was able to hit that second pitch to center."
The late rally made Twins right-hander Phil Hughes the winner, as he tossed seven strong innings, giving up two runs on five hits. The first run came on a homer from David DeJesus in the second, while the second came on a bloop RBI single from Kevin Kiermaier in the fifth. Closer Glen Perkins tossed a scoreless ninth to preserve the win, improving to 12-for-12 in save situations, while also picking up his 100th career save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Birthday boy homers: Dozier, celebrating his 28th birthday, crushed a solo shot to left field to open the third inning. It was his fifth of the year, but his first career homer on his birthday in four games. Dozier had a big grin after his homer, but he said it wasn't because it was his birthday. More >
"You don't really think about it," Dozier said. "It just came in a big situation to tie the game up."
Stranded: After the Twins scored twice in the seventh to take a 3-2 lead, Rene Rivera singled to lead off the Rays' eighth. Manager Kevin Cash inserted speedy Tim Beckham to pinch-run. One out later, Blaine Boyer's wild pitch allowed Beckham to advance into scoring position, but that's where he would finish the inning. Steven Souza Jr. struck out swinging before Evan Longoria flied out to left on a 2-0 pitch, leaving the potential tying run stranded at second.
... And birthday boy delivers go-ahead RBI: With Santana at third and none out in the seventh, Dozier did the job on a 94 mph fastball from Jepsen, connecting on a line drive to center field to easily plate Santana from third on a sac fly.
Odorizzi ends on sour note: The right-hander entered the game as the only American League starter to pitch into the seventh in seven starts. Friday night made eight when Odorizzi pitched six-plus innings. Odorizzi had thrown 99 pitches through six innings, but Cash decided to bring him back to pitch the ill-fated seventh. The plan had been for Odorizzi to pitch to the first two batters before bringing in Jepsen to face Dozier. More >
"We were just a hit away there at the end." -- Cash on the Rays coming up short
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Perkins became the sixth player in Twins history to record 100 saves. He's just four saves shy of matching Jeff Reardon for fifth on the club's all-time list.
RAYS ADD MINOR-LEAGUE DEPTH
Right-hander Kyle McPherson was inked to a two-year Minor-League deal on Friday. The right-hander appeared in 10 games for the Pirates in 2012, going 0-2 with a 2.73 ERA. He is scheduled to report to extended spring camp.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays:Alex Colome will try to rebound from a bad outing in Saturday's middle game at 2:10 p.m. ET. The right-hander allowed four home runs, the most by a Rays pitcher at Tropicana Field since Scott Kazmir in 2008, to the Yankees on Monday. Cash concluded that the Yankees were not stealing signs against the Dominican right-hander, rather he just left some balls up in the zone to a dangerous lineup.
Twins: Right-hander Trevor May is set to start on Saturday for the Twins at 1:10 p.m. CT. The rookie is coming off a rough start, as he gave up six runs over four innings against the Indians on Sunday.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.