Aubrey Huff hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth inning,
and the Devil Rays beat the slumping Twins 5-2 Thursday.
"We're not out of the woods, believe me, but it's better,"
said manager Lou Piniella, after his team rallied to win a road
series for the first time in 12 tries since last Aug. 26-28 at
Tampa Bay, held hitless for five innings by Minnesota starter
Johan Santana, arrived at the Metrodome this week with the worst
road record in the majors -- now 6-18 -- and took three of four.
The Devil Rays, perennial losers since they began playing in
1998, faced several tough teams to start this season and weren't
"We had four or five guys hitting in the .100s, the pitchers
weren't throwing well and nothing was going right," Huff said.
Now, after 10 wins in their last 14 games?
"Everybody's starting to relax and have a little bit more fun
at the ballpark," said Huff, whose improvement has mirrored his
team's upswing. He has a hit in 12 straight games, with four homers
and 12 RBI in his last seven.
Lew Ford hit a leadoff home run for Minnesota, which has lost 10
of its last 14 -- including five of seven to last-place Tampa Bay
over the 10 days.
"They've given us a tough time this year," said Santana (2-4),
who lost his fourth straight start.
"It's good to come out and play good on the road," Hendrickson
said. "It's something we really haven't done this year."
After going 11-2 with a 2.85 ERA in his 18 starts last season,
Santana has had a disappointing start to his first year as a
full-time member of the rotation.
He threw seven shutout innings against Seattle on May 13, but he
hasn't won since. His ERA is 5.50.
"What can you say? He pitched his tail off," Twins manager Ron
Gardenhire said. "He just had one bad inning."
That was the sixth, when Geoff Blum ended an 0-for-20 slump by
leading off with a sharp double. Julio Lugo's two-out infield
single cut the lead to 2-1. After Rocco Baldelli hit a single that
squeaked through the left side, Huff hammered a hanging slider on
an 0-1 count into the football press box to make it 4-2.
"I felt pretty good," Santana said. "I'm just trying to go
out there and do the best I can. I'm not frustrated. ... We're
going through a tough time. This game is very tricky."
Winning for the first time in four starts, Hendrickson gave up
six hits, two runs and three walks in 6 1-3 innings.
After inheriting a runner with one out in the seventh, reliever
Travis Harper got Ford to hit into an inning-ending double play.
The Twins are hitting .179 in their seven games against the
Devil Rays this year, and they've scored three runs or less in six
of their last 10 games -- all losses.
"We have to find a way to make our own breaks when things
aren't going our way," Gardenhire said. "It's not because guys
aren't trying. If anything, they're trying too hard."
Toby Hall added an RBI single in the ninth for Tampa Bay, which
is stuck in the AL East behind the Yankees, Red Sox and improved
"They can score some runs," Gardenhire said. "They're not a
bad team. They're just in the wrong division."
Twins 1B Doug Mientkiewicz sat out with a sore wrist, and
SS Cristian Guzman went to the dentist with a toothache that kept
him from sleeping the night before. ... Someone hung a sign in the
upper deck that said, "Play McGriff." Since rejoining the Devil
Rays last week, 1B Fred McGriff has made three starts. Eight home
runs short of 500 for his career, McGriff did not play.