ST. PETERSBURG (WDAE) -- The Rays used a 16-hit barrage to stun the team with the best record in baseball, beating up the Minnesota Twins 14-3 Thursday at Tropicana Field.
After holding Tampa Bay's bats in check for the first two innings, the Rays got to Twins starter Martin Perez in the third, loading the bases on a single by Daniel Robertson, followed by walks to Avisail Garcia and Tommy Pham. Austin Meadows then unloaded a double that cleared the bases for a 3-0 lead. Willy Adames grounded out, moving Meadows to third, and Travis d'Arnaud made it 4-0 with a base hit. Christian Arroyo, called up Thursday on his 24th birthday, doubled d'Arnaud to third, and Brandon Lowe's two-run single made it 6-0.
Charlie Morton quickly put up a zero in the top of the fourth, and the Rays went back to work, plating five more runs in the fourth off reliever Zac Littell, with Meadows and Adames driving in runs with singles, Arroyo lacing a two-run double and Lowe adding a run-scoring double.
Pham left the game in the fourth with a right lower leg cramp, replaced as DH by Ji-Man Choi. Choi keyed a three-run eighth with a two-run homer off Littell.
Morton (6-0) allowed single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but ended up going seven full for the win. Adam Kolarek worked a scoreless eighth, and Oliver Drake allowed a run in the ninth, but finished out the contest.
With the Yankees idle, Tampa Bay pulls to with one-half game of New York for the lead in the American League East.
Tampa Bay Rays (35-19) vs. Minnesota Twins (37-18), 7:10 pm first pitch, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 6:00 with The Inside Pitch.
Rays starter: RHP Ryne Stanek (0-1, 2.97 ERA)
Twins starter: RHP Jose Berrios (7-2, 3.20 ERA)