Morales Had Big Hit, Leads Twins Past Rangers 3-2
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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Kendrys Morales slapped a line drive away from the Texas shift, landing it just inside the foul line in left field where the only person close to it was a security guard scrambling to get out of the way.
A deft leap from the guard kept the ball in play and sent the Twins on their way to ending a 10-game road losing streak.
Morales’ tiebreaking double in the top of the ninth off Texas closer Joakim Soria brought in pinch-runner Sam Fuld from first base in a 3-2 Minnesota victory Sunday.
After the security guard dodged the ball with his right foot, the carom off a brick wall just missed his left foot as the ball rolled into shallow left field, a long way from Texas’ Michael Choice.
A ground-rule double would have forced Fuld to stop at third instead of scoring easily, and Soria (1-3) struck out the final two hitters of the inning.
“We got a couple of breaks, and we won the ballgame,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Kyle Gibson (7-6) matched a career high by going eight innings and scattering eight hits. Glen Perkins struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save in 23 chances.
Robinson Chirinos had three hits for Texas, including his seventh homer of the season in the fifth inning for a 2-2 tie.
Josh Willingham’s second hit got the winning rally started with one out in the ninth before he was replaced by Fuld. The Twins had lost the first five games on a six-game road trip after winning four straight on a brief homestand.
“It was a big game for us after a tough road trip,” said Gibson, who had a 22-inning scoreless streak snapped when he allowed seven runs in just two innings to start the trip at the Los Angeles Angels. “All I did was try to give my team a chance to win and turn things around.”
Jorge Polanco, making his first major league start for Minnesota, had a tying double on a check-swing roller over the bag at third base in the third inning. The 20-year-old shortstop scored for a 2-1 lead on a single by Joe Mauer, who extended his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games.
“They did what they had to do to win the game,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We didn’t. Even if it was check swings and all that stuff, that’s baseball. You can’t control what happens sometimes.”
Polanco also had a strong day defensively, helping turn three double plays and taking a hit way from Elvis Andrus on a one-hop smash to his left in the eighth inning.
“The kid played great at shortstop,” Gardenhire said. “He has good at-bats. He’s got things to learn, but he’s doing just fine.”
The Rangers had runners at first and third with nobody out in the second and again with one out in the seventh but didn’t score either time. Choice struck out ahead of Rougned Odor’s double-play grounder in the second, and Choice grounded into a double play to end the seventh.
Texas right-hander Colby Lewis ended a streak of 13 straight starts without a quality start of at least six innings and three earned runs or fewer, which was tied for the major league record with Seattle’s Steve Trout from 1988. He gave up two runs in six innings and struck out eight.
Lewis left in a 2-2 tie, remaining winless in seven career starts against the Twins.
It was the second rough outing of the three-game series for Soria. He gave up four runs in the ninth inning of Texas’ 5-4 victory on Friday.
The injury-riddled Rangers (37-44) hit the halfway mark of the season with their fewest wins since 2007 and are 14 games behind Oakland in the AL West.
“We’re just in a situation right now where we’ve got guys hurt and we’re going to go out there and compete,” Lewis said. “That’s all Wash asks us to do.”
NOTES: Chris Parmelee’s single in the sixth inning gave him a career-best nine-game hitting streak. … The Rangers won a home series for the first time since mid-April. They had gone winless in 10 straight series at home. … Polanco is the first Minnesota player to start his career with two extra-base hits since Rich Becker in 1993.
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