MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Johnny Damon figured the Tampa Bay Rays were in great shape.
The way he saw it, he had just beat out an infield single to give the Rays runners at the corners with two outs in the ninth and Ben Zobrist coming to the plate.
First base umpire Gary Darling saw it differently, ruling that shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka's throw just beat Damon to the bag to end the game and give the Minnesota Twins a 3-2 victory over the Rays on Tuesday night.
``When I crossed the bag I was like, `Awesome, we're getting our hottest hitter up here,' Damon said. ``Obviously, as you can see by my reaction, I'm stunned.'
In the end, Rays manager Joe Maddon said, the team's lack of offense rendered any close plays or calls moot. Zobrist had three hits and B.J. Upton hit a solo homer in the ninth to close the gap, but Tampa mustered little else in support of James Shields (8-6).
Shields allowed three runs - two earned - on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts in six innings. He also picked two more runners off base, but it wasn't enough against the Twins.
``You have to score more than two runs to win,' Maddon said. ``We have to get off the schneid with our offense. We have to be more consistent. We just can't wait for the very end all the time. But I love the fight.'
Scott 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 for the Twins, who hung on despite another rough outing from closer Matt Capps.
Capps gave up a homer to 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 induced Damon's groundout to end the game for his second save in three nights - both coming after Capps couldn't finish the game.
Ben Revere had two hits and scored two runs and Michael Cuddyer drove in two runs for the Twins.
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 Maddon went to the bullpen to start the seventh.
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.
``I minimized my damage the best I could,' Shields said. ``But unfortunately it wasn't good enough tonight.'
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.
``I didn't know if I was going to be able to catch it so I came in hard and tried to make a play on it,' Joyce said. ``I realized at the last second that I wasn't going to be able to catch it, so I tried to slow up and stop it and it kind of skipped by me. It's a mistake that can't happen.'
Maddon didn't like the looks of it, but also couldn't get too upset.
``We need to be able to out-hit some mistakes on occasion, too,' Maddon said.
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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