Kubel, Young power Twins in loss

Kubel, Young power Twins in loss

RAYS 5, TWINS 3
at Port Charlotte, Fla.
Thursday, March 25

Twins at the plate: Left-handed-hitting Jason Kubel was one of the few Minnesota hitters to solve Tampa Bay lefty David Price, drilling an opposite-field solo homer in the second. Kubel has just eight career regular-season homers against lefties, compared to 63 against righties. Delmon Young finally chased Price with a two-run homer in the seventh.

Rays at the plate: B.J. Upton led the early charge for Tampa Bay, singling home a run in the first and doubling home another in the third. Nevin Ashley padded the margin with his RBI single in the fourth. Carlos Pena struggled, striking out in each of his first three at-bats. But Reid Brignac bailed out the Rays with a go-ahead single in the seventh.

Twins on the mound: After outpitching Price in his previous outing, Francisco Liriano struggled a bit at Charlotte Sports Park. The Rays touched him for seven hits, and for single runs in the first, third and fourth innings. Liriano did strike out six in four innings, walking just one. Brian Duensing tossed four innings in relief, giving up two unearned runs.

Rays on the mound: Price shook off Kubel's homer by retiring the next nine batters, and he remained sharp until the seventh. He worked six-plus innings, striking out five and allowing the three runs, seven hits and a walk. Mike Ekstrom, trying to earn the final bullpen spot, tossed two scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out three.

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Worth noting: The Rays might have done more early damage against Liriano if not for highlight-reel plays from Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy and right fielder Jacque Jones. In the first, Hardy ranged deep into the hole to field a grounder, before making a strong throw to nab Jason Bartlett at first base. An inning later, Jones robbed Gabe Kapler on a sinking liner to right. ... The Rays held a hitters' meeting Thursday morning. Among the topics discussed was giving every hitter a USB drive stocked with game film before each series, allowing them to study opposing pitchers away from the ballpark.

Grapefruit League standings: Twins 11-9; Rays 15-7

Up next: Twins bullpen hopeful Pat Neshek, recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery, will pitch Friday on a single day's rest for the first time since his operation. To make the club, Neshek will need to prove he can pitch on back-to-back days by the end of Spring Training. Friday's scheduled outing against the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., will mark another step in that direction. Scott Baker will start for the Twins in the 6:05 p.m. CT game, opposite Chris Tillman.

Wade Davis and Andy Sonnanstine will take the mound Friday for the first time since being named Tampa Bay's fifth starter and long reliever, respectively. Davis, who said he was "ready to rock" after officially joining the rotation, will attempt to do so opposite Blue Jays lefty Brett Cecil in a 1:05 p.m. ET game at Dunedin Stadium. Sonnanstine and right-hander Lance Cormier will pitch in relief.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.