Twins' bottom of order makes big contribution

Kepler logs first two MLB RBIs, Grossman stays hot against Rays

Twins' bottom of order makes big contribution

MINNEAPOLIS -- While Eduardo Nunez's leadoff inside-the-park homer and Brian Dozier's game-tying homer in the fifth were the most memorable plays on Thursday night, it was the bottom of the order that helped the Twins to a season-best 15 hits in a 6-4 win over the Rays at Target Field.

The last five hitters in the lineup combined to go 10-for-19 with three RBIs and three runs scored to help the offense wake up after scoring a combined seven runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of the A's. Robbie Grossman stayed hot, picking up two hits, while Byung Ho Park had a career-high three hits and Max Kepler picked up the first two RBIs of his career. Kurt Suzuki added two hits, while Byron Buxton executed a perfect hit-and-run and had a sacrifice fly.

Kepler's RBI double

"A lot of guys had good nights with the bats," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It was nice to see Max get a couple big hits, Dozier with the homer. Grossman keeps finding ways to get hits. It was a lot of contributions from a lot of people."

Molitor said he was pleased to see Park's hard work pay off, as he had been working on his swing to get out of his recent slump. Park had hit .093 over his previous 12 games. And despite a strikeout with two runners on in the seventh, Buxton looked comfortable at the plate and is 3-for-11 since getting called up on Saturday.

Buxton's sacrifice fly

"There's nothing like getting feedback with a three-hit night," Molitor said. "Kurt had a nice hit and Buxton got a run in, and had a hit-and-run single. It's been three games, but he's holding his own."

It was just the 18th time this season the Twins logged double-digit hits, as they saw all nine batters record at least one hit. Nunez, who went 2-for-5 and led the way his inside-the-parker, said he's hopeful it'll be a sign of the offense turning it around.

Statcast: Nunez races for homer

"It was great to have a game like that offensively," Nunez said. "We haven't had a lot of games like that this year. Hopefully that starts today with a game like that. I think we were more comfortable after the bad series in Oakland. We just wanted to turn the page and do our thing."

Molitor was more cautious about calling it a potential spark, as he knows his club has been inconsistent. But with 16 of their next 19 games at home, he's cautiously optimistic the Twins will start playing better baseball.

"We've talked about that a lot in the first couple months to hopefully find something that propels us in a more consistent fashion," Molitor said. "I'd like to think that might happen because I try to stay positive. You have to start with one and tonight was a good win."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.