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Twins seize lead with four-run 4th, hold on vs. D-Rays

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins are running out of
healthy players and finding a way to win at the same time. Credit
the confidence they gained during their pre-All-Star-break surge.

Justin Morneau's bases-loaded bloop single scored two of
Minnesota's four runs in the fourth inning, and the Twins beat the
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-3 Monday night for their fourth straight
victory.

Scott Baker (3-5) gave up three runs in six innings in his
return to the rotation, and the Twins improved their major
league-leading home record to 34-11.

Their ninth consecutive win over the Devil Rays, dating to July
21, 2004, was also their 26th in their last 33 games overall.
Rondell White added a two-run single in the ninth, and Joe Nathan
finished up for his 17th save.

"It's a little bit different right now, because we're not as
healthy as we were," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But guys are
playing. It's pretty fun on the bench. Guys are loose, and we're
laughing about things. ... No one's panicking, and I think that's
the feeling you have to have."

Greg Norton and Travis Lee homered for Tampa Bay, but rookie Tim
Corcoran (4-1) got stuck with his first major league loss after
letting a 2-0 lead slip away.

Lee, who hit four homers in the first two weeks of the season,
went deep for the first time in 176 at-bats since April 13. He did
it against the team that drafted him in 1996 and ultimately lost
his rights after contentious, complicated negotiations over his
contract that summer.

The Devil Rays had plenty of chances, but they left seven
runners on in the first five innings.

"We hit the ball well early, and we did take advantage at some
points," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "We've got to hit the
ball more consistently."

After beginning the season as the fifth starter, Baker was
demoted to Triple-A with a 6.06 ERA in nine starts. In his first
outing in the majors since May 30, Baker was a little better than
before.

He struggled early, stranding two runners in each of the first
two innings and needing 53 pitches to get through the first three
frames. With one on and one out in the third, Norton fouled off a
pair of two-strike offerings before sending a 2-2 pitch off the
folded-up football seats in right for his fifth homer in 105
at-bats this year.

Lee's homer leading off the sixth brought Tampa Bay within 4-3,
but Baker retired the next three batters to finish the inning. He
struck out six, walked one and yielded eight hits.

Baker used 13 sliders, a pitch he worked on with Triple-A
Rochester over the past month, to help keep Tampa Bay off balance.

"It seems like every place we go we've been running into good
pitching," Maddon said.

Corcoran, called up from the minors a month ago, gave up seven
hits, four runs and two walks in six innings. He struck out one,
after allowing only three runs in 18 2-3 innings over his previous
three starts. Corcoran also picked up a victory in relief, on July
9.

He faced the minimum nine batters through three innings, but the
right-hander quickly ran into trouble in the fourth. Luis Castillo
doubled and Nick Punto drove him in with a base hit. Joe Mauer
followed with a hard single and Michael Cuddyer walked on four
pitches to load the bases.

Morneau lifted a single over shortstop Julio Lugo's head to
score two. Jason Kubel reached on a fielder's choice grounder, and
White did the same -- driving in Cuddyer to make it 4-2 Minnesota.

"I just lost a little bit of focus out there," Corcoran said.
"I'm just trying to get it back."

The Twins placed three outfielders on the disabled list during
their last series, and Kubel is bothered by sore knees and not at
full strength. Punto was taken out as a precaution with a jammed
left knee, an injury he felt on the bases in the fourth inning.
He'll have an MRI test on Tuesday, and he said he wasn't too
worried. But the team can't afford to lose him for much time.

"It's a tribute to this organization in the sense that we've
got depth," Cuddyer said. "We're using it up real quick, but
that's what we take pride in ... being able to bring up guys to the
big leagues and having them have success from the get-go."

Game notes
Devil Rays 3B Ty Wigginton is still day to day with a
strained back. He probably won't be ready until Wednesday. ...
Tuesday's game will feature two All-Star left-handers, Tampa Bay's
Scott Kazmir and Minnesota's Francisco Liriano. According to the
Devil Rays, it will be only the second time since 1989 that two
10-game winners ages 22 or younger faced off in the same game. The
last instance was in 2002, when Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia beat
Chicago's Jon Garland. ... The Twins' bullpen entered with a
baseball-best 3.25 ERA before striking out three in three perfect
innings.