05/03/07 1:09 AM ET
Rays' bats come alive late to beat Twins
Zobrist scores game-winner on fielder's choice in 10th
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
And when the laugh track stopped, the Devil Rays had a 4-3 win over the Twins in front of a crowd of 9,101 at Tropicana Field, a win that moved the Rays into third place in the American League East in front of the Yankees and Orioles.
"There were just so many unusual things that occurred," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
After a game of strange occurrences, the Rays saved the best for the bottom of the 10th inning.
Carlos Pena's popup with one out in the ninth proved that lightning really could strike in the same place twice. The Rays first baseman's hit ricocheted off the catwalk then landed just over the head of Twins second baseman Luis Castillo with the rest of the Twins' infielders staring in disbelief. Two innings earlier, Pena hit another Roman candle shot that landed in the "B" ring catwalk in foul territory, and never came down.
"That's the Rays version of the infield hit," Maddon said. "It was strange. You could see it was going to fall. ... You're yelling at Carlos, 'Run!'"
Pena's new life didn't help in the eighth, but the 10th-inning single paid rich dividends that unfolded in comedic fashion when Ben Zobrist pinch-ran for Pena with Brendan Harris stepping to the plate.
Harris, who ignited the game-tying rally in the bottom of the ninth with a leadoff walk, delivered with a double into the left-field corner off Twins reliever Matt Guerrier. Zobrist raced around third ready to score the winning run, only he tripped.
"I just stretched too far to get the bag," said Zobrist, who picked himself off the turf and returned to third base, hoping he hadn't blown the game.
The Twins pulled in their infield to try and cut off Zobrist from scoring on a ground ball. But when pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro grounded to shortstop Jason Bartlett, Zobrist took off on contact and slid across home carrying the winning run and a great sense of relief.
"I feel bad for Harris, he had the game-winning RBI and I blew it," Zobrist said. "Yeah it's embarrassing, but I've got to laugh about it. ... I'm glad Navvy got the bat on the ball."
Jonny Gomes, chewing on a skewer of meat from the postgame spread, offered his analysis about Zobrist's future.
"He just stamped himself on the highlights they show in every ballpark for the rest of his career," Gomes said.
Overshadowed in the wild finish were all the contributions that had to take place in order for the Rays to get to extra innings.
Jae Seo, who experienced his worst outing with the Rays when he lasted just 1 1/3 innings on Thursday in Anaheim, rebounded nicely by allowing just two runs in six innings of work. Torii Hunter's two-run homer in the second served as the only blemish on Seo's line.
Delmon Young helped keep the Rays in the game with two stellar plays in the field. With one out in the fourth, Jeff Cirillo flew out to Young in right field, and the Rays rookie doubled off Jason Kubel at first base to complete a 9-3 double play.
Young got tested again in the sixth, when Justin Morneau lined a ball down the right-field line for what appeared to be a sure double, but Young's strong throw nailed Morneau sliding into second.
"Delmon's got one of the finest throwing arms in baseball," Maddon said. "We've got so many guys like that that can beat you without their bats."
Ty Wigginton put together a 10-pitch at-bat in the fifth before hitting into a fielder's choice to score Rocco Baldelli. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire thought Wigginton was out at first and was ejected from the game after arguing the point with first base umpire Angel Hernandez.
The Twins took a 3-1 lead into the ninth and brought in closer Joe Nathan to try and preserve the win. But the Rays did not go gently in what could have been their final at-bat.
After Harris walked to lead off the inning, Nathan struck out Josh Paul. Harris then moved to second on a wild pitch with Baldelli at the plate. After Baldelli struck out, Elijah Dukes ripped a single to left to score Harris. Carl Crawford followed with a single to left -- his third hit of the night -- to move Dukes to second. Wigginton then singled home Dukes to tie the score at 3 and send the game into extra innings.
"These guys have been my kryptonite," said Nathan, who took a loss against the Rays on April 15. "They've got a great lineup. Obviously, they can score runs. You've got to make pitches. I left some balls up to them, and they did what they're supposed to do."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.