ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins' confidence took a serious hit heading into one of their biggest series of the season.
Minnesota, which opens a three-game series against Cleveland on Tuesday night 1 1/2 games behind the AL Central-leading Indians, lost four straight to lowly Tampa Bay and manager Tom Kelly urged the Twins to quickly rebound.
"If we don't bring our 'A' game with us, we don't have a chance," Kelly said after the Twins were shut down by Nick Bierbrodt and the Devil Rays 5-1 in Monday's only AL game.
"We have to bring our a 'A' game no matter who we're playing. It doesn't matter if we're playing the Indians, Red Sox, Yellow Sox or the team down the street playing in the Little League field."
Minnesota has dropped 21 of 28 and the Tampa Bay series showed why. The Twins scored just nine runs, hit .190 and converted one of 33 opportunities with runners in scoring position against baseball's worst team.
"They threw some quality pitching on us," Twins DH David Ortiz said. "That's the ballgame. That's why we got beat up."
Bierbrodt (1-2) allowed two of the Twins' three hits over seven scoreless innings. The left-hander, who struck out seven and walked three, retired his last 10 batters.
"The big left-hander over there shut us down, and was pretty much in control of the game," Kelly said. "We still have to hang in there best we can, try to regroup and see if we can get something working."
Ben Grieve hit a solo homer for Tampa Bay, which has a season-high four-game winning streak. Tampa Bay, with the majors' worst-record of 42-77, have won 12 of 22 since July 21.
"We have hustled, we've executed and we've played with a lot of enthusiasm," Tampa Bay manager Hal McRae said. "I thought we played good baseball over a stretch of six to eight weeks, but we were always shooting ourselves in the foot. This time we didn't do it."
The Twins threatened in each of the first four innings, but went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Four Tampa Bay runs came on two-out hits.
Toby Hall put the Devil Rays ahead 1-0 with a two-out RBI single in the third.
Tampa Bay scored twice with two outs in the fifth to take a 3-0 lead. Grieve hit a solo shot to center and, after Hall singled, Randy Winn hit an RBI triple.
Jason Tyner had an RBI grounder in the sixth, and Aubrey Huff had a two-out, run-scoring single in the seventh to make it 5-0.
Denny Hocking's RBI groundout in the ninth drove in the Twins' only run.
"We're hitting a little tough streak right now, but the guys are still confident we'll get through it," said Twins starter Kyle Lohse (3-5), who gave up four runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings.
It was the first time since June 16-19, 1994 -- when Oakland swept Texas -- that a team in last place at the start of a series swept a team in first place in a four-game series. Minnesota started the series tied for first in the AL Central.
Notes: Tampa Bay starting pitchers have allowed just four runs over 32 innings in the past five games. ... Minnesota LF Chad Allen had two hits. ... Ortiz's four-game home run streak ended. ... Tyner, the Devil Rays' leadoff hitter, broke an 0-for-17 streak with an eighth inning single. ... Grieve had just two RBIs during the Devil Rays' seven-game homestand. It was his first homer since July 27. ... Bierbrodt allowed seven runs and 13 hits over 3 2-3 innings in his last start Wednesday against the New York Yankees.
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