PORT CHARLOTTE (620 WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Rays saw Nathan Eovaldi pitch into the fifth inning, but a three-run second allowed by the right-hander was the difference as the Minnesota Twins poured on an 8-1 decision Thursday in Port Charlotte.
Erick Aybar opened the scoring after singles by Mitch Garver and Kennys Vargas, lacing a triple in to the right field corner to score both runners, and coming home himself on a sacrifice fly by Chris Heisey.
Tampa Bay's only run came in the bottom of the fourth, as Joey Wendle doubled in Denard Span, who was hit by a Kyle Gibson pitch.
Minnesota added single runs off Matt Andriese in the sixth and seventh, while Anthony Banda gave up three unearned runs in the eighth. The only Tampa Bay pitcher to put up a scoreless outing Thursday was Sergio Romo, who retied the final two batters after relieving Eovaldi in the fifth.
Tampa Bay will now head to Hammond Stadium on Friday to complete the home and home, as Jake Faria will start. First pitch from Fort Myers is scheduled for 1:05.