MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Brian Duensing overcame a shaky start to throw a six-hitter and Danny Valencia homered among his three hits and had three RBIs to help the Minnesota Twins beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-0 on Monday.
Duensing (6-7) struck out seven and walked four for his second career shutout, giving struggling closer Matt Capps the day off.
David Price (8-7) gave up four runs on five hits with six strikeouts in six innings for the Rays.
Michael Cuddyer added a solo homer and Tsuyoshi Nishioka had a two-run double for the Twins. Capps blew a three-run lead on Saturday and had to be pulled from the game in the ninth on Sunday.
Casey Kotchman and Sean Rodriguez each had two hits for Tampa.
Duensing walked a tightrope early in the game, getting hit hard by the Rays but taking advantage of some good defense keep Tampa Bay off the board.
Tampa loaded the bases in the first inning before Justin Ruggiano bounced into an inning-ending double play. Kelly Shoppach did the same after a leadoff single from Kotchman in the second and Cuddyer and Alexi Casilla both made nifty plays in the fourth inning.
Cuddyer, who is headed to his first All-Star game, made a leaping catch at the right field wall to take away an extra-base hit from Ruggiano and Casilla made a diving stop to get Matt Joyce and strand two runners on base. Duensing pumped his fist and slapped Casilla on the rear as they headed to the dugout, and he cruised from there.
The lefty retired 15 of the final 16 hitters he faced.
It was the kind of outing many expected to see from Price against the injury plagued Twins lineup manager Ron Gardenhire trotted out there.
It almost wasn’t fair looking at the injury plagued Twins lineup manager Ron Gardenhire sent up there to face Price, the Rays’ overpowering lefty. Only two hitters started the day with a batting average better than .244, and the bottom third featured lightweights Jason Repko (.230), Matt Tolbert (.186) and Nishioka (.189).
The trio proved to be a lot more formidable than expected the first time through the order. Repko singled, Tolbert walked and Nishioka hit a two-run double to right field to open the scoring.
A scary moment occurred in the third inning, when Joe Mauer’s bat splintered on a dribbler back to Price. The barrel slammed into home plate umpire Paul Emmel’s right leg on the follow through, causing Mauer to turn and look as he trotted down the first base line.
Trainers rushed to Emmel’s aid, but after a few minutes the umpire remained in the game without missing a pitch.
Cuddyer hit the next offering from Price an estimated 443 feet into the second deck in left field, giving the Twins a 4-0 lead.
Valencia took all suspense out of the game when he hit a three-run homer off of Adam Russell in the eighth inning. He also had a double and is 6 for 7 with two walks in his career against Price.
NOTES: Rays OF Ben Zobrist missed the game because of illness. … The Twins said OF Jason Kubel (sprained foot) was still having discomfort while running so he was going to return to the Twin Cities for further examination on Tuesday.
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