MINNEAPOLIS – Justin Morneau hit a three-run homer, Kyle Lohse pitched eight strong innings and the Minnesota Twins beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays again, 4-1 on Saturday night.

Joe Mauer added an RBI double for Minnesota, which won for the fifth time in six games.

Jorge Cantu, a strong candidate to represent the reeling Devil Rays in the All-Star game, drove in a run with a fourth-inning single. The Devil Rays have lost seven of their last eight games overall and seven in a row to the Twins.

Lohse (7-6) gave up just four hits and one walk while striking out six. He got help from left fielder Shannon Stewart, who made a diving catch of Travis Lee’s sinking liner to end the second and leaped against the wall in the eighth to take an extra-base hit away from Nick Green.

Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his 22nd save in 24 chances.

Seth McClung (0-4), making his second start since his recall from Triple-A Durham last week, gave up six hits, four runs and three walks in six innings. He struck out eight.

After totaling 27 victories over the previous two seasons, Lohse stumbled to a 9-13 record with a 5.34 ERA last year and was even worse this April. He had a strong May, going 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA, but June brought mostly more troubles – until he turned in six shutout innings at Milwaukee last Sunday.

Lohse retired the first nine batters he faced, then found a bit of trouble in the fourth when Carl Crawford led off with a single. Cantu’s single, the third hit of the inning, drove in Julio Lugo and stopped Lohse’s scoreless innings streak at nine.

But rookie Jonny Gomes, who is 3-for-30 with 12 strikeouts in his last eight games, grounded into a double play to end that threat.

McClung, a hard-throwing right-hander, recorded all three outs in the second by strikeout. But he also let Minnesota hit for the cycle in the inning, including Morneau’s towering shot to right field – his 11th – that followed a single by Jacque Jones and a double by Lew Ford.

Mauer made it 4-1 in fifth with his two-out double after McClung walked No. 9 hitter Luis Rivas to start the inning.

Notes: Mauer had just two RBIs and eight hits in his last 10 games. Morneau had just five hits in his previous 22 at-bats. … McClung’s last start at the Metrodome, on April 30, 2003, was much worse. He failed to get out of the second inning, allowing eight of 11 batters to reach and hitting two Twins with pitches. The one that plunked Bobby Kielty followed a three-run homer by Torii Hunter, prompting the Minnesota dugout to empty briefly.

AP-ES-07-02-05 2116EDT


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