MINNEAPOLIS -- It wasn't always pretty, but considering the position they've put themselves in this year, the Tampa Bay Rays can't be too picky.

James Loney had two hits and two RBIs and Chris Archer won consecutive decisions for the first time this season as the Rays won their fifth straight with a 5-3 victory against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.

At one point this season it appeared the Rays might have dug too deep a hole to recover. On June 10 they were 24-42, but since that low-water mark they've gone 23-11 and pulled to within eight games of first place in the AL East.

The Rays, who went on an 11-4 tear going into the All-Star break, matched their longest winning streak of the season against the punchless Twins, who scored six runs in the three-game series.

But they didn't make it easy on themselves Sunday. They committed two errors, both leading to Minnesota runs. They also gave the Twins a run on a wild pitch. And on offense, they stranded 12 runners, including nine in scoring position.

Archer (6-5) pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up one earned run on six hits while walking two and striking out four. Four relievers combined to get the last eight outs, with rookie Kirby Yates closing out the game for his first career save.

Yates had to bail out Grant Balfour, who walked two batters with one out in the ninth. The first batter he faced was Brian Dozier, who took part in the home run derby at Target Field last Monday. But with the winning run at the plate, Yates got Dozier on a grounder to third and retired Eduardo Nunez on a pop out.

Kevin Correia (5-12) took over the major league lead in losses, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks in four innings for Minnesota. The veteran right-hander gave up two runs in the first and single runs in each of the next two innings.

In his previous seven starts, Correia was 3-4 but had a sparkling 2.30 ERA in 43 innings pitched.

Instead, Correia got off to a shaky start on Sunday and never recovered. Desmond Jennings led off the game with a double, and Correia walked the next two batters to load the bases. Loney delivered two runs with a sharp single to give the Rays a lead.

"You all saw it, 90 pitches in four innings and it was a hard 90, not an easy 90," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Correia's outing. "He labored through it and kept the damage to a minimum. But he labored through it."

 

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