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Liriano shackles Tampa Bay

By Jon Krawczynski AP Sports Writer MINNEAPOLIS -- Francisco Liriano outclassed fellow young gun Scott Kazmir, allowing three hits over 82/3 innings in the Minnesota Twins' 8-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Tuesday night. What was bill...

By Jon Krawczynski

AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- Francisco Liriano outclassed fellow young gun Scott Kazmir, allowing three hits over 82/3 innings in the Minnesota Twins' 8-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Tuesday night.

What was billed as a matchup of two of the best young lefties in baseball proved to be no match at all.

Liriano (11-2) struck out seven to bounce back from his worst start of the season and received a standing ovation when he took the mound to start the ninth, while Kazmir (10-7) showed plenty of rust in his first start in nine days.

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Liriano was going for his first career complete game but Tomas Perez reached on an error to start the ninth and Rocco Baldelli's run-scoring single chased Liriano with two outs. Kyle Lohse struck out Jorge Cantu for the final out.

Kazmir gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings, including a towering home run to Justin Morneau in the fourth that gave Liriano more than enough support.

Perhaps a little weary from traveling from his native Dominican Republic to Pittsburgh as a last-minute fill-in for the AL All-Star squad, Liriano gave up five runs and five hits in five innings of a loss to Cleveland last week.

He looked like his old self against the nose-diving Devil Rays, who lost their fifth straight and 10th in a row to the Twins dating to July 21, 2004. The 22-year-old Liriano didn't allow a baserunner until Julio Lugo's leadoff single in the fourth and retired 13 of the last 14 batters of the game.

Kazmir, the AL's other 22-year-old rising star, pitched one inning in the All-Star game, but hadn't started a game since July 8. He was scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday because of a stiff neck, and was less than sharp right from get-go against the Twins.

He fell behind leadoff hitter Luis Castillo 3-0 before getting him to pop out weakly to first, then gave up a triple to Nick Punto.

Joe Mauer followed with a single to make it 1-0.

The Twins opened the third with three straight singles, the last by Castillo driving in Jason Tyner. Punto followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.

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Morneau's 25th homer of the season made it 4-0 in the fourth.

A disastrous relief appearance by Edwin Jackson allowed the Twins to pull away in the seventh. He gave up singles to Rondell White and Josh Rabe, then hit Tyner before his wild pitch to Jason Bartlett allowed White to score from third.

Punto's second hit of the game scored two more runs, thanks in part to a great slide from Tyner at home to make it 7-0, and that was it for Jackson, who gave up four runs and three hits in one-third of an inning.

Punto had three RBIs and Mauer added two hits and two RBIs for the Twins, who won their fifth in a row.

The Rays have lost eight of nine to fall a season-worst 16 games below .500.

NOTES: Baldelli made a nice play in the second on a hit and run. Baldelli caught a line drive in right-center from Josh Rabe, then gunned down White with a picture-perfect throw to first to end the inning. ... White was doubled off first again in the fourth after a leaping catch by SS Julio Lugo.

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