ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Back home following a calamitous trip, the Tampa Bay Rays righted themselves.
Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford homered, James Shields pitched into the eighth inning, and the defending AL champions ended a season-high, five-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
"This was a make-us-feel-good type of game," Crawford said. "We really needed it."
Shields (4-4) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven-plus innings to get his first win since May 3. The right-hander gave up a solo homer to Michael Cuddyer in the sixth and a second run that scored on Justin Morneau's RBI double off reliever J.P Howell in the eighth.
The Rays stopped their longest skid since dropping seven straight heading into last season's All-Star break. They went 2-5 on a disappointing road trip that concluded with four straight losses at Cleveland, which entered the series with the worst record in the league.
"We definitely needed a win. ... It's a good way to start a homestand," said Shields, who had been 0-2 over his previous four starts.
"You just have to keep plugging away," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We had a tough go up in Cleveland. That stuff happens during a season. I thought our guys were in good order, we just lost some games."
Longoria boosted his major league-leading RBI total to 54 with his three-run homer off Scott Baker (2-6), snapping a 1-1 tie in the sixth. Crawford's second homer of the season gave the Rays a 1-0 lead in the third.
Joe Mauer had a single, double and triple to boost his batting average to .417 for the Twins, who fell to 5-15 on the road. His triple leading off the eighth finished Shields, and Morneau followed with his double to trim Tampa Bay's lead to 4-2.
Morneau scored from second base on Longoria's throwing error on Cuddyer's grounder to third, however Minnesota stranded the potential tying run at second when Howell struck out Joe Crede and Brendan Harris to end the eighth.
Willy Aybar gave Tampa Bay some more breathing room with an RBI double that made it 5-3. Dan Wheeler and Randy Choate pitched the ninth, with Choate getting his first major league save by striking out Mauer with one runner on base.
"We battled pretty hard there toward the end," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who's at a loss to explain Minnesota's futility away from home.
"We've played good baseball on the road, but we're not winning games. You've got to find a way to win games."
Shields walked one and struck out five. He has suffered from a lack of run support this season, with Tampa Bay winning just two of the last eight games in which he's pitched, even though the right-hander has not pitched that poorly.
Entering Friday night, the Rays had scored 4.03 runs per nine innings for Shields. That was fifth-lowest in the AL.
The Twins wasted opportunities early, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position through five innings. Cuddyer's ninth homer wiped out a 1-0 deficit in the sixth, however it didn't take Tampa Bay long to regain the lead.
B.J. Upton and Crawford singled before Longoria lined his 13th homer over the center field wall to make it 4-1. Baker didn't make it through the inning, leaving after Ben Zobrist doubled with two outs.
The Minnesota starter allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"We came up a little short, but I don't think we should dwell on this game," Baker said, adding that the Twins can still take the series by winning the remaining two games. "To get down about this game would be kind of foolish in my opinion."
Longoria finished 3-for-4. ... Crawford extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... Minnesota SS Nick Punto, who missed his second straight game with a groin injury, was placed on the 15-day disabled list. ... Rays RHP Chad Bradford, whose recovering from right elbow surgery, is close to beginning a minor league rehab assignment with Double-A Montgomery. ... Twins LHP Glen Perkins (left elbow) is set to resume throwing off a mound. He is expected to have several bullpen sessions before starting a minor league rehab assignment.