MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Scott Baker had another impressive start cut short by injury before Glen Perkins bailed out struggling closer Matt Capps in the ninth again to help the Minnesota Twins hang on for a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.
Baker (7-5) gave up one unearned run on three hits with three strikeouts before leaving after five innings with a mild right elbow strain.
But Capps gave up a homer to B.J. Upton and a base hit to Casey Kotchman to draw boos from the home crowd. He walked Kelly Shoppach with two outs, forcing manager Ron Gardenhire to pull him for the second outing in a row.
Perkins got Johnny Damon to groundout to shortstop to end the game. It was his second save in the last three nights, both coming after Capps couldn’t finish the game.
Capps blew his sixth save of the year on Saturday when Milwaukee scored four runs in the ninth for an 8-7 win. He then was pulled from the game on Sunday after giving up two hits and Perkins came on for the save.
Upton hit Capps’ first pitch deep into the left field seats to make it 3-2, and Kotchman ripped a single to right, eliciting chants of “We want Perkins!” from the impatient crowd.
After nearly walking Sean Rodriguez, Capps recovered by getting him on a lineout to center. Sam Fuld flew out to deep right field, but Capps walked Shoppach before leaving to more boos.
Perkins got Damon to groundout to Tsuyoshi Nishioka on a very close play, and the sellout crowd breathed a big sigh of relief.
Ben Revere had two hits and scored twice and Michael Cuddyer added two RBIs for the Twins.
James Shields (8-6) gave up three runs — two earned — on six hits with five strikeouts, three walks and two more pickoffs in six innings for the Rays.
Ben Zobrist had a double and two singles for Tampa Bay.
The game featured two right-handers on top of their respective games, with Shields entering the game with 127 strikeouts, six complete games, three shutouts and a ticket to the All-Star game in his back pocket.
Baker was sensational in June, going 3-1 with a 0.29 ERA in his previous four home starts.
Even though the offense was fairly minimal, the pitching duel that was expected never really materialized. Baker breezed through the first five innings and appeared to be in total control when he went to the dugout on 62 pitches in the middle of the fifth.
Shields needed 105 pitches to get through six, so manager Joe Maddon went to the bullpen to start the seventh.
Phil Dumatrait came out to start the sixth for the Twins, and the team said Baker would be evaluated again on Wednesday. Alex Burnett and Joe Nathan combined to get the ball to Capps.
Shields was in trouble right away, giving up a leadoff single to Ben Revere and a double to Alexi Casilla to give the Twins runners on first and second with nobody out. He struck out Joe Mauer before Revere scored on a groundout by Cuddyer, then ended the inning with a lightning-quick move to pick Casilla off second to escape down just 1-0.
Casilla had company. Shields picked off Rene Tosoni in the fourth, giving him 10 already this year, breaking Joe Kennedy’s club record of eight for an entire season set in 2002.
Shields’ defense didn’t do him any favors in the third inning when right fielder Matt Joyce let a bloop single from Cuddyer get past him, allowing Casilla to score all the way from first base. Revere also scored on the hit, giving Minnesota a 3-0 lead.
NOTES: Shields leads the majors in pickoffs and is bidding to become the first RHP to lead the big leagues in that category for a full season since Charlie Hough picked off 16 runners for Texas in 1988. … Valencia committed his 10th error of the season. He had six in 81 games last year. … Rays 3B Evan Longoria went 0 for 4 and is 1 for 15 in July.
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