Cuddyer's bat plays superhero as Twins steamroll Rays

Turning point: The young Devil Rays began the night on a sour note, allowing two first-inning runs after committing two errors.

Heroes: Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer combined for seven RBIs for the Twins.

Quotable: "I didn't do my job today. We go early to the bullpen and I hate that. I bust my behind all season not to throw five innings, but to throw seven or more." -- Sidney Ponson

-- ESPN.com news services

Twins 12, Devil Rays 5

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Sidney Ponson wasn't exactly happy with the way he pitched on Saturday night, but he'll take the result every time.

Michael Cuddyer had three hits and two RBIs, Ponson won for the first time in almost a year and the Minnesota Twins beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 12-5.

"He got the job done," Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said of Ponson. "He said he didn't even feel good today and he was pretty upset about that. I was like, 'really?' You got the win. Don't worry about it."

Hunter also drove in three runs and Justin Morneau two for the Twins, who took advantage of Devil Rays starter Edwin Jackson's control problems to manufacture some much needed offense.

Before Saturday, the Twins had scored 16 runs in their last seven games.

"We started rolling the ball through and a lot of guys got a lot of hits," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "All the way around we got going."

Two fielding errors on one play gave the Twins an extra run and a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Cuddyer lined a single to right to drive in Luis Castillo, who walked to lead off the game. Joe Mauer, who also reached based via a walk, scored from first after second baseman B.J. Upton misplayed the throw from right fielder Delmon Young. Shortstop Ben Zobrist then threw the ball away, allowing Cuddyer to take third.

"Basically, the things we did wrong were pretty simple kind of stuff," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. About the mishandled relay throw, Maddon said "that is something that you practice since you are in little league."

The Devil Rays strung together three hits and scored twice in the second to tie it, but the Twins again took advantage of Jackson's wildness to add three more runs in the third.

Jackson (0-2), who posted a solid 1.74 ERA during the spring and was effective in his first start against Texas, gave up a leadoff single to Jason Tyner before walking Mauer and hitting Cuddyer to load the bases with nobody out. Morneau drove in Tyner with a single to right and Hunter and Jason Kubel added sacrifice flies to give the Twins a 5-2 lead.

Jackson walked five and allowed three hits, giving up five runs -- four earned -- in three innings.

"I just pitched with no conviction," he said.

Ponson (1-1), who was shelled in his first start of 2007 against the Yankees, was unspectacular in earning the win, but did enough to get a standing ovation from the 35,269 fans at the Metrodome after being pulled with one out in the sixth inning.

The veteran scattered eight hits and yielded two runs over 5 1-3 innings while striking out six. He left with runners on first and third and one out, and reliever Juan Rincon pitched his way out the jam without giving up a run.

"I'm seven (innings) and up," Ponson said. "I didn't do my job today. We go early to the bullpen and I hate that. I bust my behind all season not to throw five innings, but to throw seven or more."

Added Gardenhire: "I don't think he's exactly where he wants to be, but he's getting there. It's a win."

Maddon talked before the game about the importance of his young team playing fundamentally sound baseball. He couldn't have been very happy about what he saw on Saturday.

Besides Upton's first-inning mishap and Jackson's problem finding the strike zone, third baseman Akinori Iwamura misplayed a ground ball with two outs in the sixth inning, leading to two additional runs.

"I don't think we came ready to play," Devil Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli said. "Maybe I am missing someone, but I don't think there is one guy that can really say they came to the field ready to go, and gave a good effort. Obviously we tried, but that wasn't anywhere near going to be good enough or acceptable."

Young extended his hitting streak to 11 games for Tampa Bay, finishing 2-for-5 with a run scored. Carlos Pena hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth for the Devil Rays.

Luis Rodriguez homered over the right-field baggy to lead off the Twins' seventh inning, his first homer since June 25.

Three batters later, five-year veteran Jason Tyner narrowly missed his first major league homer when his blast to right field hit the top of the baggie.

Game notes
Morneau, who bats left-handed, is 9-for-16 with three home runs and six RBIs against left-handed pitchers this season. The reigning AL MVP hit .315 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs against lefties last season. ... Tampa Bay is the only team in baseball to have homered from every spot in the batting order this season. ... Johan Santana was awarded his 2006 AL Cy Young award in a ceremony before the game.

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