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Tampa Bay Rays lose 4-2 to Minnesota Twins, snapping five-game winning streak

ST. PETERSBURG — There were several things missing Sunday from the Rays' magic mojo that had helped them carve out a five-game winning streak.

The Rays battled the Twins in the same cool, relentless manner and made another furious push in the late innings.

But this time, the hits didn't drop in, and Rays walkoff wonder Johnny Damon wasn't there to bail his team out. The result was a 4-2 loss in front of 22,426 at Tropicana Field.

Damon, who had driven in the go-ahead run in five consecutive games, left after the fourth inning with a bruised left index finger. X-rays were negative, and the Rays listed him as day to day.

Damon was injured bunting a pitch foul in the third inning and toughed it out long enough to finish the at-bat, lining an RBI single to give the Rays (6-9) a 1-0 lead and returning to his position in leftfield. But Damon said he couldn't grip the bat and was replaced by Matt Joyce, who went 0-for-2.

"I wanted to try to tough out the game, but they thought it was best if I came in and started icing and tried to get ready for (today)," Damon said. "At this point, I can't guarantee anything. Time will tell. It's unfortunate our streak came to an end but hopefully we can start another one."

The Rays had their chances to make a winner of starter Jeremy Hellickson (1-2), who allowed four runs in seven innings, three runs coming in a mistake-filled fifth.

Tampa Bay rapped eight hits but stranded 13, thanks mostly to some flashy plays by the Twins outfielders.

Rightfielder Jason Kubel, who hit his second home run of the series to tie the score in the fourth inning, made a leaping catch and crashed into the wall to rob Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach of a potential run-scoring hit in the fifth.

Kubel's effort was sandwiched between a sliding catch on the warning track by centerfielder Jason Repko to take an extra-base hit away from Sean Rodriguez in the second and leftfielder Delmon Young's diving catch of a liner by Felipe Lopez with a runner on and nobody out in the eighth.

"They did a lot of good things in the outfield," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Kubel going back on that ball by Shoppach was really big. … Had that gotten over his head, that could've really turned the game around right there."

The Rays had Twins starter Brian Duensing (1-0) on the ropes and failed to score three times with runners on the corners.

It looked as though another cardiac comeback was in store in the eighth after the Rays put runners on first and third with one out. B.J. Upton walked and went to third on Shoppach's hit-and-run single through the right side of the infield.

But Ben Zobrist scorched a one-hopper that shortstop Alexi Casilla turned into a double play.

Considering the winless homestand to start the season, taking three of four from the Twins sat well with Maddon.

"Some days, you hit line drives," Maddon said. "We're producers, not directors, and it's at somebody. I really don't worry about that stuff. I worry about the effort level and I loved the way our guys went after it today.

"Listen man, I'm going to sleep well tonight."

Tampa Bay Rays lose 4-2 to Minnesota Twins, snapping five-game winning streak 04/17/11 [Last modified: Monday, April 18, 2011 7:45am]
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