ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Josh Lowe and Mike Zunino homered for the first time this season, Corey Kluber gave up one hit in six innings and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Minnesota 6-1 on Friday night, halting the Twins’ seven-game win streak.
It was the first career homer for Lowe, who was facing some pressure after going homerless and batting .170 in 16 games as Tampa Bay’s replacement for power-hitting Austin Meadows. Manager Kevin Cash asked Lowe before the game “not to make me look stupid hitting him fourth.”
“He said it in the dugout, some assurance there from skip,” Lowe said, grinning. “It was fun. I took it as a challenge.”
Zunino, too, was feeling some heat after hitting 33 homers last season and batting .083 so far this season. But he wasn’t worried about Lowe.
“I’ve been there. I’ve pressed. It’s natural to do even with many years under your belt, but there’s no question of the talent, no question of the resume with what he’s done in Triple-A,” Zunino said. “It’s just finding your footing and building a little confidence. When a guy like him gets going, he’s going to go on a tear and this will be an afterthought sooner rather than later.”
Lowe’s homer came in a four-run first inning off Twins starter Dylan Bundy. Zunino’s solo shot put the Rays up 6-0 in the third.
“The game wasn’t over just because we were four runs or five, six runs behind,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It just gave us a little bit of a challenge. It’s going to be uphill sledding at that point, but we couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
Kluber (1-1) gave up one run on one hit and no walks in six innings, striking out six in his fourth start for the Rays.
The Rays jumped on Bundy (3-1) from the first pitch, which Brandon Lowe…