MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays were looking for something, anything, to break out of the skid that had extended to five straight losses and 11 of 13.
But before they had to get too desperate — well short of an Indian rain man former manager Joe Maddon once resorted to, clubhouse sacrifice or other fiendish tactics some used in the minors but said they couldn't share in a family newspaper — the Rays on Friday did it the old-fashioned way.
Brad Miller came up with the clutch hit they were desperately seeking, singling with two outs in the eighth to deliver the tiebreaking run in what ended up a 4-2 win over the Twins.
"We've been starving for that kind of play or hit,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "It was needed. I was really happy we got it. The entire dugout was really happy."
Taylor Motter started the rally with a bloop single to right, and went to third when Hank Conger singled and rightfielder Max Kepler mishandled the ball. Miller then slapped Twins starter Ricky Nolasco's 107th and final pitch to right for a single.
"Glad I got it done,'' Miller said. "The biggest thing is we need wins, and when we all play to win, I think everything takes care of itself.''
After six innings — and a career-high 120 pitches — from Jake Odorizzi, and three outs by Erasmo Ramirez, who ended up with his seventh win, the Rays put the lead in the hands of Xavier Cedeno, who got Joe Mauer to fly out, and then Alex Colome, who made it more interesting than they wanted, command clearly lacking after five days off.
Colome got the second out of the eighth, loaded the bases on a double and a pair of walks then struck out Kepler. Logan Morrison homered in the ninth to provide some cushion, but it still wasn't easy. Colome hit the first batter and gave up a single to the third to face the Twins' top hitters, but got Mauer on a lineout to left and Brian Dozier on a pop-out for his 13th save in as many tries.
The Rays (23-30) grabbed an early lead. With two outs in the first, red-hot Evan Longoria launched a 1-and-1 pitch just over the centerfield wall for his team-leading 11th homer. That continued a good trip for Longoria, who is 9-for-20 in the first five games, with multiple hits in three.
Odorizzi couldn't hold it though, allowing a leadoff triple to Twins rookie Byron Buxton in the third who after a pop-out and a walk by Mauer, scored on a grounder to short. The Twins made it 2-1 when Mauer scored from second on a single ahead of the throw by rightfielder Steven Souza Jr.
The Rays tied it in the fifth as Souza showed some hustle, Cash noting his "excellent baserunning" and great reads. Souza led off with a double, went to third on Corey Dickerson's infield out — which was much better than a strikeout — and scored on Mikie Mahtook's fly to center.
After Thursday's game, Matt Moore said he and other starters felt they often had "more in the tank" after being taken out.
Cash said he didn't have a great reason for letting Odorizzi stay out there for 120 pitches Friday, but Odorizzi said he felt good in doing do. And probably even better about getting the opportunity, especially for getting to finish the sixth after walking the leadoff man. "I'm glad (Cash) has the confidence in me, and I followed through,'' he said.
Though he only went six innings, Odorizzi did continue his solid run, a fourth straight start of allowing two or fewer runs.
Even though it was just one victory, and over the only team in the American League with a worse record. the Rays felt good about it.
Before celebrating their first win since last Saturday, and second since May 24, the Rays had a sigh of relief.
"There's a lot of excitement,'' Odorizzi said over the blaring music in the clubhouse. "It's nice to get the monkey off the back. It's been a long time since we won a game. It's nice to have the energy of a win, and hopefully this kinds of propels us the rest of the road trip and gets us back in that winning mode.''