Rays battle back from early deficits but drop rubber game to Twins

Tampa Bay Rays left fielder David DeJesus (7) runs home after he hit s 2-run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the second inning.

Kim Klement/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Left-hander Erik Bedard struggled to get through four innings of Thursday’s 9-7 loss to the Minnesota Twins, demonstrating the recent woes of the Tampa Bay Rays.

"We just didn’t pitch up to our standards today and that’s why we lost that game," said manager Joe Maddon.

Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer, Kurt Suzuki drove in three runs, and the Twins won for the second time in the three-game series. It was Minnesota’s first series win here since September 2006.

The Rays, who will open a 10-game road trip Friday night, went 3-4 on their homestand.

Bedard (0-1) gave up four runs, five hits and five walks in four innings. It was the eighth time in their last 10 games that Tampa Bay’s starter went five innings or fewer.

Box score

The Twins took a 3-0 lead in the first with the help of four walks and two hits off Bedard. Suzuki had a two-run single and Sam Fuld hit an RBI double.

"I couldn’t really throw strikes in the first inning," Bedard said. "I was trying to battle and throw it into the strike zone, but I had a couple walks in the first and then it got better as the game progressed. Hopefully next start I’ll throw more strikes and get quicker outs."

Bedard, Jake Odorizzi and Cesar Ramos have been filling in the Rays’ rotation in the absence of injured Matt Moore, Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hellickson. Thursday’s game marked the 11th time a Rays starter has gone five innings or fewer, a league-high.

"Of course we’re missing some really good guys but you can’t worry about that. We can’t cry about that," Maddon said. "You’ve got to get the best out of the people that you have."

Ricky Nolasco (2-2) allowed six runs and 10 hits over six-plus innings. Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his fifth save.

James Loney drove in a run with a double before David DeJesus got the Rays within 4-3 on a two-run homer in the second. Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce each had a sacrifice fly in the seventh and pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe’s RBI single off Jared Burton in the eighth made it 9-7.

Heath Bell relieved Bedard in the fifth and departed after Suzuki’s RBI infield single went off his leg in the sixth. Juan Carlos Oviedo, coming back from elbow ligament replacement surgery, replaced Bell and went 1 1-3 scoreless innings in his first major league appearance since Sept. 21, 2011 with Miami when he was known as Leo Nunez.

Fuld, who played the last three seasons with the Rays, had five hits in the last two games of the series including three doubles. He hit no doubles in 2013.

"It’s nice to come back here and contribute, to put some good swings on the ball," Fuld said. "Tampa Bay is a tough team. I know that as well as anybody."

NOTES: It was the first time since Aug. 7, 2013, that the Rays scored seven runs in a loss . . . Bedard became the Rays first pitcher to walk four in the first inning since Scott Kazmir on Aug. 1, 2008 . . . Tampa Bay begins a four-game series Friday night at the Chicago White Sox with RHP Chris Archer (2-1) going against RHP Erik Johnson (1-1).