Manager Joe Maddon likes to talk about his swarming offense, how the Rays put together big innings with hits and walks and hits. On Monday, that was replaced by a quick-strike attack that surfaced in the seventh inning and pushed the Rays into sole possession of second place.

A solo home run by Yunel Escobar and a two-run shot by Ben Zobrist gave the Rays the lead for good in the seventh against the slumping Twins and sent the Rays to a 7-4 victory in front of 11,516 at Tropicana Field.

The Rays' win, coupled with the Orioles' loss to the Rangers in Baltimore, broke a tie for second place in the American League East.

This is the Rays' best position in the standings since April 6 when they were tied for first.

“That's good, but our goal is to be in first,” Zobrist said. “We still got our work cut out for us. Boston is a tough team. All the teams in our division are tough. We still have to play them a lot. It will be a battle. It will continue to be a battle. We're playing well right now, and we feel good about that.”

Monday's win was also the Rays 50th in 90 games, which means they are a season-high 10 games above .500. The only teams in franchise history to get to 50 wins quicker were the 2008 and 2010 teams.



“The thing I like is that we're 10 games over and segmentally we have to get up to 15, that would be next and we work it from there,” Maddon said.

The Rays were in last place by percentage points on June 23. Since then they've won 11 of 14 games. Monday's win was their fifth straight and ninth in their last 10 games.

They are 7-1 during this 14-game stretch against the Astros, White Sox and Twins, not exactly the best the American League has to offer.

But, Maddon said, that is not as much of a factor in the Rays' recent run as outsiders like to think.

“We're playing among some of our best baseball, probably our best baseball right now,” he said.

Zobrist agreed.