ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- A.J. Pierzynski hit his first career grand slam to highlight a seven-run fifth inning, powering the
to an 11-6 victory over the
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Pierzynksi's third homer of the season with none out off starter
turned a one-run deficit into a 9-6 lead. The Twins catcher also had a sacrifice fly in the first and finished with a career-high five RBI.
Kennedy fell behind 2-1 in the count to Pierzynski, who belted the fourth pitch of his at-bat over the right field wall, giving the Twins a 9-6 lead.
is a very good young pitcher," Pierzynski said. "I was lucky, my first at-bat I got a chance to really see him, and then my second at-bat I got a chance to see a lot of pitches. He made a mistake and I hit it. It was very exciting. The biggest part was they had just scored five. I just happened to be the right guy in the right spot."
"(Kennedy) hung a curveball and he (Pierzynski) did what you're supposed to," Twins manager
said. "That was a big hit."
Piniella defended his decision not to pull Kennedy earlier.
"How quick am I supposed to pull him? We need a 15-man bullpen," Piniella said. "We need more innings out of our starters. What am I supposed to do? Everytime they get in trouble, go out and pull them?"
Kennedy's disastrous outing came five days after he pitched a one-hitter in a victory at Detroit.
"I went from the best game of my career to the worst," Kennedy said. "Very drastic. A poorly executed game."
"It certainly wasn't the same guy who had the one-hitter in Detroit," Piniella said. "They (Minnesota) junked the ball around in the first inning, but in the fifth they didn't."
Mays was ripped for six runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. But the Twins' bullpen did the job as three relievers combined to allow three hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
"Joe (Mays) didn't have it tonight," Gardenhire said. "He made some bad pitches, they got some bloops and hit some hard. Our bullpen came in and saved the day. We put together a touchdown and that's how you win a game."
Kennedy struggled from the start as the Twins sent nine batters to the plate and scored four times in the opening inning. Kielty, Hunter and Mohr all had run-scoring singles and Pierzynski lofted a sacrifice fly.
But Mays could not make the lead stand up.
bounced into a forceout in the bottom of the inning to get a run back for the
, and they drove the Minnesota starter from the game in the fourth.
and Anderson started the fourth with singles and Hall delivered a run-scoring base hit.
kept things going with an RBI single, pulling the