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<b>Associated Press</b> Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Nick Blackburn throws a pitch in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday in St. Petersburg, Fla. Blackburn pitched six innings and earned his fifth win of the season. Joe Nathan got his ninth save.

Twins avoid sweep with win over Tampa Bay

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Twins avoid sweep with win over Tampa Bay
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Brendan Harris homered and Justin Morneau and Carlos Gomez also drove in runs Sunday to help the Minnesota Twins avoid a weekend sweep with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Nick Blackburn (5-2) pitched six strong innings, allowing two runs and seven hits, and the Twins scored all their runs off Matt Garza (4-4) to beat their former teammate and end a three-game losing streak.

Carlos Pena hit his American League-leading 17th homer of the season for the Rays. Matt Joyce also homered off Blackburn.

Garza -- facing his former team for the first time -- was unable to hold a 2-1 lead after limiting the Twins to two hits over the first five innings.

Twins reliever Jose Mijares pitched out of a jam with the tying run on third base in the eighth inning. Joe Nathan work-ed a perfect ninth for his ninth save in 11 opportunities.

Garza was acquired in the November 2007 trade that also brought shortstop Jason Bartlett to the Rays as part of a six-player transaction that sent Harris and outfielder Delmon Young to Minnesota.

The 25-year-old right-hander was an 11-game winner last season, and beat Boston in Games 3 and 7 to claim MVP honors in the AL Championship Series. He has been Tampa Bay's most consistent pitcher this year, flirting with a no-hitter against the Red Sox on April 30, when Jacoby Ellsbury's infield single leading off the seventh inning spoiled a bid for a perfect game.

Harris and Young had the first two hits off Garza Sunday, with Harris hitting a two-out solo homer in the second and Young leading off the fourth with a single. Denard Sapn legged out a bunt and later scored on Justin Morneau's RBI single that made it 2-2 in the sixth.

Gomez's bloop single, the third straight hit off Garza, snapped the tie in the seventh. Garza allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

NOTES: Twins C Joe Mauer, who fouled a ball off his right leg just above the ankle and was also hit by a couple foul tips Saturday, was out of the starting lineup. He was available off the bench. ... Tampa Bay leadoff hitter B.J. Upton, hitting .200 with two homers and nine RBIs in 44 games, was rested but entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth. 2B Ben Zobrist replaced Upton at the top of the lineup... Minnesota 3B Joe Crede (bruised left knee) didn't play. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon has talked with injured closer Troy Percival (right shoulder). Maddon said the right-hander plans to rehab his shoulder, but added that retirement remains a possibility. ... Twins RF Michael Cuddyer left the game in the second inning with right index finger strain. He is day to day.

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