Josh Hamilton showed his back was not an issue a night after suffering spasms.
Now the Texas Rangers just want their offense back. And if a lineup shuffle is what it takes, so be it.
Nelson Cruz, hitting in the No. 5 spot instead of his usual No. 6, went 3 for 5 with two doubles and two RBI, including one that scored Adrian Beltre from first base with the winning run in the 10th to lead Texas to a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night, snapping their five-game losing streak.
Beltre also was 3 for 5 with a home run that tied the game in the sixth as the Rangers improved to 41-5 in games in which the All-Star third baseman hits a home run.
”Cruz swung the bat well,” manager Ron Washington said. ”We were due to finally put together something offensively. We kept swinging and kept getting runners out there. We just weren’t able to get as many in as we would have liked, but we got the one in that was important.”
Hamilton had a home run, walk and a run scored as the designated hitter one night after leaving in the fifth inning with back spasms.
Joe Nathan (1-2) pitched scoreless ninth and 10th innings for the Rangers, his longest outing in almost three years after ligament replacement surgery, in relief of Derek Holland, who returned from a stint on the disabled list with left shoulder fatigue.
Holland gave up three runs on six hits, two walks and four strikeouts over six innings.
Kyle Waldrop (0-1) failed to get an out in the 10th to take the loss for the Twins, who used six pitchers, including Samuel Deduno in his major league starting debut, to again keep the Rangers’ offense subdued.
During the losing streak, the majors’ best offensive team scored nine runs.
The Rangers had a few chances to go ahead late, but couldn’t capitalize. They loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Beltre grounded out to end the inning.
In the eighth, David Murphy walked and stole second with two outs, followed by a walk to Mike Napoli. But Craig Gentry popped out to short center field handled by Twins shortstop Brian Dozier. The Rangers are 3 for 17 with runners in scoring position in the series, including 2 for 9 on Saturday.
”We kept swinging and kept getting runners out there,” Washington said. ”We just weren’t able to get as many in as we would have liked, but we got the one in that was important.”
Washington told reporters before the game that nothing should be read into moving Cruz up to No. 5 and Michael Young down to sixth. The move, he said, was the result of moving Young out of the No. 3 spot of Hamilton, who wasn’t expected to play.
Washington said he just decided to leave Cruz, who has struggled all season, at No. 5.
”I’m not going to pat myself on the back,” Washington said. ”It just came off my pen that way.”
Said Cruz: ”I don’t see any difference. When the games starts, everybody’s first and third (in the order). There’s no other way to see it.”
Trevor Plouffe, Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham each drove in runs for the Twins, who took a one-run lead on Willingham’s solo homer in the sixth.
The Twins had their chances, including putting runners on first and second in the seventh after one-out walks to Joe Mauer and Willingham, but Robbie Ross induced Justin Morneau to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Willingham gave the Twins the lead a second time on a home run to center field until Beltre’s blast tied the game again.
Deduno, the Twins’ 11th pitcher to start a game this season, gave up three runs including two home runs, on six hits and three strikeouts. He walked three. His biggest mistake was a slider up in the zone that Beltre smacked into the left-field seats that tied the game at 3-3 in the sixth.
”I thought he threw some really nice breaking balls,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ”He hung the slider to Beltre, and against these guys if you throw too many strikes they will absolutely kill you.”
Notes: Hamilton became the first Rangers player to record at least 27 home runs and 75 RBI before the All-Star break and first major leaguer to do so since Albert Pujols in 2009. Alex Rodriguez was the last American League player to reach those marks in 2007. … The Rangers optioned right-handed pitcher Justin Grimm to Double-A Frisco to make room for Holland. Grimm went 1-1 with a 10.80 ERA in three games with the team, including two starts. … Home plate umpire Marty Foster left the game in the top of the seventh after apparently becoming sick. Second base umpire Jeff Kellogg took over behind the plate for the short crew. … Ross extended his scoreless innings streak to 22 1/3 after recording an out in the seventh and pitching the eighth. Ross is in position to post the lowest ERA (0.96) through the All-Star break since 1933, eclipsing Bob Gibson’s 1.06 in 1968. The lowest rookie figure is 1.78, recorded by Detroit’s Mark Fidrych in 1976.