ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Minnesota left fielder Josh Willingham made a diving attempt at a sinking line drive. A couple of batters later, he was chasing down a deep fly ball when he ran into the outfield wall.
Both balls were just out of Willingham’s reach and became RBI doubles in the fifth inning for the Texas Rangers, who snapped their longest losing streak in nearly nine years with a 5-4 victory over the Twins on Friday night.
“Diving full out down the line, diving up against the wall in left field,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “What can’t you like about that? He’s trying to make a play.”
The Twins then came up just short of a big comeback, scoring four runs in the ninth off rusty Texas closer Joakim Soria but still losing their ninth straight road game.
“Tough ballgame, the guys are out there giving everything they have,” Gardenhire said. “They’re staying after the game and they keep plugging away and we’ve come up close a couple of times but they’re still losses. We got to figure out a way to win. Got to get some hits early.”
Jorge Polanco’s two-run triple in the ninth for his first major league hit made it 5-4. Soria, who had given up just one earned over 20 2-3 innings in his previous 22 games, then got a strikeout and grounder to end the game. The right-hander was making only his second appearance since June 14.
Rangers manager Ron Washington decided it was time to shake up his lineup a bit. A few switches in the batting order and an impressive performance by young starter Nick Tepesch ended their eight-game losing streak, their longest since August 2005.
Adrian Beltre homered and Shin-Soo Choo had three hits in his return to the leadoff spot while Tepesch allowed only three singles over 7 1-3 scoreless innings.
“He was outstanding. We needed a well-pitched game and he gave it to us,” said Washington, who liked his lineup as well. “We’ll run the same one out there tomorrow and see what happens.”
“It’s nice to end any negative streak,” said Beltre, who added a sacrifice fly in the eighth that proved to be the margin of victory.
Luis Sardinas and Choo had RBI doubles in the fifth.
Sardinas hit a sinking liner down the left-field line that rolled into the corner after Willingham made a diving attempt to catch it. Choo hit a fly ball that glanced off Willingham’s glove when he ran into the 14-foot fence.
Kevin Correia (4-9) allowed four runs and six hits over six innings. The right-hander, who struck out three and walked two, had given up only two earned runs over 18 innings his previous three starts.
“I felt pretty comfortable out there and my stuff was pretty decent I just made a couple of bad pitches,” Correia said. “The one to Beltre cost me and then Choo. He hit three balls off me where I fell behind him and I threw bad pitches all three times so it was pretty much, that was the game there.”
Choo led off for the first time in 18 games while Carlos Pena, in only his fourth game back with the Rangers, took over the No. 3 spot where Choo had hit .149 (10 for 67) since June 7. Choo had a leadoff single in the first and scored on Beltre’s ninth homer for a quick 2-0 lead.
Tepesch (3-3) struck out five, walked two and hit two batters, while matching his longest major league start. He has won all three of his career starts against the Twins, allowing only three earned runs in 20 2-3 innings.
NOTES: Rangers ace Yu Darvish (7-4, 2.62 ERA) is scheduled to start Saturday. He lost his last two starts, allowing 12 runs (eight earned) over 11 innings. … Phil Hughes (8-3) pitches the middle game for the Twins.
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