- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Matt Moore’s night started with an inside-the-park home run and ended after five innings, sooner than the Tampa Bay left-hander believed it should have.

Not much is going right for these Rays.

Eduardo Nunez led off the game for Minnesota with an inside-the-park home run, Max Kepler picked up his first two major league RBIs and four Twins relievers combined for five scoreless innings in a 6-4 victory over the reeling Rays on Thursday.

“I felt like things were going better than they actually were, and then all of a sudden it was a home run or a couple hits here and there,” said Moore, who has logged five innings or fewer in 14 of his 23 starts since returning last summer from Tommy John surgery.

Pitchers usually leave the dugout for the clubhouse after their last inning ends, but Moore lingered longer.

“I was not ready to go in,” Moore said. “I felt like I still had more work to go out there.”

That’s team philosophy, though. He threw 96 pitches.

“None of us are rookies, or haven’t been in that moment or that situation. We can handle that. We train for those moments,” said Moore, who hasn’t been able to return to his form of 2013 when he went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 starts. “On the other hand, there is that part where I gave up four runs, no matter which way you look at it. It’s just the style of baseball we play.”

Moore finished five innings, allowing eight hits, four runs and two walks while striking out four, after posting a 7.36 ERA over five May starts.

Byung Ho Park went a career-best 3 for 3 for the Twins, who had a season-high 15 hits and recovered smoothly from a rocky start by Phil Hughes that ended with a two-run homer by Evan Longoria in the fifth that put the Rays up 4-3.

Taylor Rogers (1-0) struck out two over two perfect innings for his first major league victory. Ryan Pressly and Brandon Kintzler followed with scoreless frames, and former Rays right-hander Kevin Jepsen worked the ninth for his seventh save in 10 tries.

Moore misfired in his chance to win consecutive starts for the first time this year, but reliever Erasmo Ramirez (6-4) took the loss after hitting Brian Dozier on the elbow with the bases loaded in the sixth inning.

The Rays have lost five straight games and 11 of 13. They had only one hit after Hughes was removed with no outs in the fifth. Instead of using the start of this series against the only team in the American League with a record worse than theirs, the Rays were left trying to explain another loss.

“It’s just not happening right now. The big play’s missing us, the big pitch, the big swing,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but that’s the way we’ve got to keep looking at it.”

Nunez’s inside-the-park home run, the first to start a game for the Twins in their 56-season history, was the perfect example.

Right fielder Brandon Guyer, fighting the early evening shadows and the setting sun, jumped for Nunez’s drive at the warning track. The ball bounced off his glove into the corner, and Nunez raced around the bases and into home with a head-first slide and a big smile. His helmet had fallen off between first and second, where it often does. Both Cash and Guyer said the play should have been ruled an error.

“It’s just tough, especially the way things are going right now,” Guyer said. “It’s a play I’ve got to make. At the end there was a little glare that came through, but it hit my glove and I’ve got to be able to catch that.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays 2B Steve Pearce was on the bench for the second straight game because of a sore right elbow. His status is day to day.

UP NEXT

RHP Jake Odorizzi (2-3, 3.36 ERA) will take the mound Friday for the Rays, fresh from a one-hit, two-run, seven-inning loss to the Yankees. RHP Ricky Nolasco (2-3, 3.93 ERA) will take his turn for the Twins, after becoming the team’s second starter to reach two wins by beating Seattle last weekend with six strong innings.

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