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Streaking Rays win 13-inning marathon over Twins

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays raced onto the field to celebrate the 4-3 13-inning victory over the Twins that extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games, All-Star Ben Zobrist singling in Yunel Escobar with two outs to end the nearly five-hour affair.

Not that they could stay long, with barely 12 hours from the 11:59 p.m. final pitch Wednesday night until today's matinee starts at 12:10.

"I think the way this club is, there's a lot of energy still," Zobrist said. "Guys will be here at 10 a.m. bright-eyed and bushy tailed."

Escobar started the rally off Ryan Pressly with a one-out single up the middle, then he moved to second on an errant pickoff with two outs. After Luke Scott walked — "the big play," manager Joe Maddon said — Zobrist singled to center, ending the 4-hour, 47-minute game with their sixth walkoff.

"He threw me some good pitches," Zobrist said. "I'm just fortunate that he left (one) up in the zone where I could get my hands to it."

All that after a two-run tying homer in the sixth by surprise starter Kelly Johnson, a top-of-the-ninth escape by Fernando Rodney, a spectacular leaping catch by Twins centerfielder Aaron Hicks to end the 10th, Evan Longoria's first stolen base attempt since April 2012 — when he tore his hamstring and missed 85 games — and a Rays-record combined 35 strikeouts, before 12,757 at the Trop.

The seven-game streak is the longest active streak in the majors, and the Rays' longest since an eight-game run in September. They've won 11 of 12 and 14 of 17 to improve to 52-40, a season-best 12 games over .500.

Jeremy Hellickson fronted another night of tremendous pitching by the Rays, who struck out 19 batters (two off their record) and walked one, and that wasn't until the 11th.

"Look at the overall effort of the pitching staff, it was outstanding," Maddon said. "Helly was good and the bullpen, they obviously all did their jobs."

"Phenomenal," Zobrist said.

Hellickson worked six solid innings, allowing three runs and striking out eight, the 12th consecutive game in which a Rays starter allowed three or fewer runs.

The bullpen was blazing behind him: Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, Rodney (who allowed two singles to start the ninth then set down the next three), Jamey Wright, Kyle Farnsworth and Cesar Ramos, who got the last two outs.

Though Longoria did single in the 12th and steal on his own — "He ran really well," Maddon said — he still is in an extended slump, 6-for-44 with no extra-base hits in 14 games since June 22. Johnson was in the lineup because of his past success against Twins starter Kevin Correia, and he improved to 9-for-25 with five homers.

The Rays were down to one reliever, Alex Torres, and no bench players, though Maddon was willing to improvise if needed. "David (Price) was already in the batting cage," he said, and Wil Myers was the emergency catcher. The eight Rays pitchers threw 199 pitches.

Sensing some players are tired and noting the quick turnaround, Maddon said he would put together "a pretty different lineup" for today.

"When you win a game like that there's energy, residual energy to just carry with you home and bring back with you (the next) morning," Maddon said. "When you don't win a game like that you have to go looking everywhere for that energy."

Streaking Rays win 13-inning marathon over Twins 07/10/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:21am]
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