Series: Game 3 of 3

Tampa Bay won 2-1

Game 1: Tuesday, May 25
Tampa Bay6
Game 2: Wednesday, May 26
Tampa Bay2
Game 3: Thursday, May 27
Tampa Bay5

Twins 4

(26-20, 12-12 away)

Devil Rays 5

(16-29, 13-12 home)

    2:15 PM ET, May 27, 2004

    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    MIN 013000000 4 7 1
    TB 02030000 - 5 12 1

    W: J. Halama (1-1)

    L: C. Silva (5-3)

    S: D. Baez (7)

    D-Rays win sixth of last seven

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Rocco Baldelli and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have broken out of early season slides.

    Baldelli hit a go-ahead, three-run homer, and reliever John Halama threw 3 1-3 scoreless innings to lead the Devil Rays over the Minnesota Twins 5-4 Thursday.

    Baldelli's first homer since May 2 overcame a 4-2 deficit in the fourth, and Tampa Bay went on to win for the sixth time in seven games. His drive hit a catwalk support pole approximately 125 feet above the field. Baldelli has hits in eight straight games and 13 of his last 14.

    "Winning is more fun," Baldelli said. "We're beating good teams now. To come and win a series against a team like this is huge."

    Baldelli is hitting .296, up from .195 on April 18.

    "He's been swinging the bat very well," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "I think he tried to put on some muscle over the winter, get a little bigger. Now he's taken 12 pounds or so off, and he's hitting. He's started to drive it."

    Halama (1-1) entered in the fourth and gave up two hits. Jorge Sosa didn't allow a run over 1 2-3 innings, and Danys Baez pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save in seven chances.

    Tampa Bay's bullpen has allowed one run over its past 35 2-3 innings.

    "You start winning these close ballgames, these are the bigger confidence builders," Piniella said.

    Corey Koskie and Jacque Jones homered for Minnesota. Carlos Silva (5-3) lost his third consecutive start, giving up five runs and 11 hits in six innings. He has given up 17 runs and 29 hits over his last three starts, lasting a combined 13 innings.

    "It was a disappointing ballgame for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's a game I feel like we should have won. I thought we had a lot of poor at-bats as the game went along."

    Koskie, activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game, homered in the second for a 1-0 lead. He had been sidelined since May 12 by a strained sternum.

    Rey Sanchez and Carl Crawford hit run-scoring singles in the bottom half, when Baldelli hit an inning-ending flyout with the bases loaded. Sanchez got his first RBI of the season, and it came in his 73rd at-bat.

    Minnesota went ahead 4-2 in the third when Jones hit an opposite-field, three-run homer down the left-field line off Jason Standridge. Jones also had a go-ahead, two-run double in the fifth inning Wednesday night.

    Standridge, in his first start and second appearance since offseason shoulder surgery, allowed four runs and five hits -- including two homers -- in three innings. He has given up 15 homers over 64 innings in his career and is 0-5 in nine career starts and 11 relief appearances.

    Game notes

    Piniella did not rule out that 1B/DH Fred McGriff would join the Devil Rays this weekend. McGriff, nine homers shy of 500, is playing for Triple-A Durham. ... Piniella has 1,398 wins, one from tying Wilbert Robinson for 23rd place. ... Minnesota RHP Joe Mays (elbow surgery) had his forearm looked at Thursday after experiencing discomfort. An examination found no tears. ... Baldelli was among approximately eight Tampa Bay players planning to attend Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Thursday night between Calgary and Tampa Bay in nearby Tampa. ... The Twins have outhomered opponents 30-22 on the road. Minnesota's opposition holds a 24-18 advantage at the Metrodome. ... The Devil Rays have allowed 62 homers while hitting 35.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press