ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) _ Vladimir Guerrero hit a tiebreaking homer and a patchwork bullpen made that hold up over the last three innings, giving the Texas Rangers a 4-3 victory over Minnesota as C.J. Wilson won his sixth consecutive decision.
“Just the wolfpack, they came in there and just everybody took a bite, it was pretty cool,” Wilson said of the five relievers that finished the game. “Every single guy stepped up. It was awesome.’
Wilson (13-5) had already thrown his last pitch Wednesday night when Guerrero led off the sixth with a homer on a night when the AL West-leading Rangers were without closer Neftali Feliz, who had worked three straight games, and primary setup man Frank Francisco (cortisone shot).
Michael Kirkman pitched a scoreless seventh in his second major league appearance before Darren O’Day and Darren Oliver both struck out the only batters they faced. Alexi Ogando allowed a hit and struck out two before Matt Harrison got the final two outs for his first pressure save.
“It’s nice to see how they handled it. They had to handle it, that’s what we had,” manager Ron Washington said.
“Ronnie’s got to be tired over there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, mix and match as best you can. He’s got a lot of good arms that he can trust.”
Guerrero had three hits, including the tiebreaking homer leading off the sixth against Brian Duensing (7-2). Josh Hamilton also homered for the Rangers.
Wilson gave up three runs with six strikeouts and two walks while throwing 103 pitches over six innings. The left-hander is 6-0 with a 2.29 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break.
“He throws hard and has a good cutter,” said Jason Kubel, who had a double and scored an unearned run against Wilson. “He has several pitches so you can’t just sit on one.”
While Wilson has been starting for the Rangers all season, Duensing is also a left-handed reliever turned starter. Duensing had been 4-0 in his first six starts since moving into Minnesota’s rotation July 23.
“I had a couple pitches that Hamilton and Vladdy made me pay for,” Duensing said. “If I make a different pitch, maybe it’s a different ball game.”
Duensing struck out five and walked one in six innings, the first time he lost when pitching that long. He was 7-0 his previous nine games in his career when he pitched at least six innings.
Texas has won four in a row, including the first three in the four-game set against Minnesota, and maintained an 8-1/2 game lead over Oakland in the AL West. The Twins stayed 3-1/2 games up in the AL Central after the Chicago White Sox lost to Baltimore.
Guerrero also had an RBI single, marking only the second time in 21 games that he had multiple RBIs. The other multi-RBI game in that span was Sunday when he had a three-run shot, his only other homer in August. Guerrero has 23 homers, but only three the last 38 games.
“I’m going to keep writing his name in the lineup until I decide to give him a day off because I know at any minute he can make a difference,” Washington said. “Tonight he made a difference.”
Hamilton’s 30th homer, and fourth in five games, was a two-run shot in the first.
It is the second 30-homer season for Hamilton, who leads the majors with a .356 batting average. He is 10 for 25 the past six games after a 1-for-16 slide the five games before that.
“Josh is doing all right,” Michael Young said with a smile. “It’s a lot of fun to be his teammate right now and get to enjoy the show up-close.”
While it was the second save for Harrison, his other was when he pitched the final three innings in a 13-3 victory over Pittsburgh on June 23.
“It was definitely test for me to go out there and be put in that situation, and know they had the confidence in me to get the job done,” said Harrison, the last available pitcher. “I was the closer, slash long reliever.”
The Twins got even at 3-all in the fifth on Denard Span’s run-scoring double and an RBI groundout by Joe Mauer, who tied the game even though he went 0 for 3 against Wilson and is 1 for 17 in his career against the Rangers left-hander.
Valencia had three hits for the Twins and drove home Kubel with a groundout in the second.
Jim Thome was scratched from the starting lineup because of soreness in his right thigh from getting hit by a fastball in the upper 90s as a pinch-hitter Tuesday night. He came on as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and struck out swinging at a 98-mph fastball by Ogando to end the inning.
NOTES: Rangers SS Elvis Andrus was 0 for 4, ending his 14-game hitting streak that was the longest active in the majors. … The gametime temperature was a pleasant 78 degrees. It was 100 degrees for the first pitch two nights earlier.