ST. PETERSBURG -- A big day at the plate from Corey Dickerson and a strong outing from starter Alex Cobb gave the Rays an 11-4 win over the visiting Twins in the series opener at Tropicana Field on Monday evening.
The win brings Tampa Bay (69-70) within three games of Minnesota (71-66) for the second slot in the American League Wild Card race. The Twins are up just a half-game over the Angels.
"We needed one like that, for sure," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Cobb threw the ball really well, and he did it with a heavy fastball, heavy curveball. And offensively, a lot of people played roles. It's good to see some guys get hot."
Dickerson's double in the sixth keyed a four-run rally and highlighted a productive night in which he went 3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles, two RBIs and two runs.
Cobb allowed just three hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings to pick up his 10th win of the season. He struck out seven and walked two before his elevated pitch count (99) forced the bullpen into early action.
After a single to lead off the second, Twins center fielder Byron Buxton swiped second base -- his 25th steal in 26 attempts this season -- and scored easily on a line-drive single to right off the bat of Max Kepler to put the Twins on the board.
The Rays quickly answered in the bottom of the frame when a 2-2 fastball from Twins starter Jose Berrios caught too much of the plate against Dickerson, who drove it over the wall in straightaway center for a solo homer.
"It was one of those nights when something happens to go wrong," said Berrios (12-7) after allowing five earned runs on seven hits in the loss. He struck out seven and walked one.
Logan Morrison tacked on an insurance run in the seventh with a solo home run -- his team-high 36th of the season -- off Minnesota reliever John Curtiss.
The Rays added four runs in the eighth thanks to consecutive run-scoring singles from Trevor Plouffe, Evan Longoria and Morrison to put the game out of reach.
"It was a good game there for a while," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We couldn't contain them once we went to the bullpen."
Dozier hit his 28th home run in the top of the eighth for the Twins, who have dropped three of their last four after going 20-10 in August.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dickerson breaks it open: A single by Morrison and a walk to Steven Souza Jr. in the sixth brought Dickerson to the plate with two men on and nobody out. Dickerson, who had already homered and doubled in the game, drove a 95-mph fastball from Berrios to the gap in right-center to give the Rays a 3-1 lead and end Berrios' night. The Rays would tack on three more runs thanks to a sacrifice fly by Adeiny Hechavarria and a two-run single by Kevin Kiermaier.
Longo gets it going: In the bottom of the third, Longoria sliced a soft liner to right field off Berrios. Kepler appeared to get a late jump on the ball and allowed it to drop, enabling Kiermaier to score from second. The Rays would never relinquish the lead. Longoria finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs.
"That was huge. One through nine, throughout the whole lineup, everyone did their part. Cobb, great game out there. That was a game we needed, and I really hope that gets guys' confidence up and proves to everyone what kind of team we can be." -- Kiermaier
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Joe Mauer extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a double off Cobb in the top of the fifth. It also continued his dominance at the Trop, where he has reached base in 24 straight and 32 of 33 games in his career. Mauer is a .390 hitter (50-for-129) with a .493 on-base percentage at the dome, both the highest marks in the stadium's history.
Souza shaken up
Souza crashed into catcher Mitch Garver while tagging on Hechavarria's sacrifice fly in the sixth inning. Garver straddled the base line as he tried to gather Buxton's one-hop throw, and Souza collided with him on his way to the plate. Souza did not return to the field the next half-inning.
"Back's a little tight, neck kind of jarred back on the hit," Souza said. "But I think I'll be OK."
WHAT'S NEXT Twins:Bartolo Colon (6-10, 6.25 ERA) will take the mound Tuesday for the second game in the series, set for a 6:10 p.m. CT start at Tropicana Field. Since being acquired by the Twins, the 44-year-old Colon is 4-1 with a 4.09 ERA.
Rays: The Rays will start Jake Odorizzi (7-7, 4.85) in the second of three games vs. the Twins in St. Petersburg, with a 7:10 p.m. ET start. Odorizzi has struggled to go deep in his last six outings, reaching six innings just once and being pulled earlier than the fifth on four ocasions.