ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Good thing for the AL West-leading Texas Rangers that they won’t have to face Kevin Correia any more down the stretch.
They can’t beat the Minnesota Twins right-hander.
Correia pitched seven strong innings Sunday as the Twins won 4-2 to clinch their first series victory at Texas in four years.
“He mixed it up well,” said Mitch Moreland, whose 21st homer leading off the third was the only run off Correia. “Used both sides of the plate, kept us off balance, and we didn’t really create a whole lot of opportunities.”
After throwing eight scoreless innings in a home victory over the Rangers in April, Correia (9-10) scattered five hits on a steamy day in Texas. He got 14 outs on the ground, including a pair of double plays.
Correia has won all three of his career starts against the Rangers, with an ERA of 1.61.
In a brief stay at home, the Rangers lost two of three while scoring exactly two runs in all three games. Texas plays its next six games on the West Coast, starting Monday with the opener of an important three-game series in Oakland.
Even though the Rangers finished August with an AL-best 20-7 record, they lost their September opener and have only a one-game division lead over the A’s. Oakland wrapped up a three-game sweep against Tampa Bay with a 5-1 victory Sunday.
“We’re not looking for help from anybody. We played these three games against the Minnesota Twins with the intention on winning,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I’m not concerned with what Oakland is doing right now. We’ll face Oakland on Monday when we get there, and we’ll play it and when we finish, we’ll leave.”
A.J. Pierzynski also homered for the Rangers in the finale against the Twins, with a pinch-hit shot in the eighth.
Texas starter Travis Blackley (2-2) was gone after giving up three consecutive run-scoring hits with one out in the fifth.
Josmil Pinto, the catcher making his major league debut a day after being called up from Triple-A Rochester, had an RBI double before Doug Bernier’s ground-rule double, a ball that bounced just fair down the right-field line and then went into the seats.
Alex Presley, acquired from Pittsburgh when the Twins traded Justin Morneau on Saturday, followed with an RBI single that made it 3-1.
Glen Perkins, the second Twins reliever, pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his 32nd save in 35 chances. He saved both Minnesota wins in the series.
The Twins didn’t let Correia go back out for the eighth because he was cramping in his ribs on a day when the temperature was 99 degrees at first pitch and rose to triple digits.
“I could have gone back out, but the coaches wouldn’t let me,” Correia said. “You can’t say anything if you want to go back out there.”
Neftali Feliz pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts in his first appearance for the Rangers since sustaining a torn elbow ligament in May 2012 that required Tommy John surgery. Feliz was the closer for the Rangers during consecutive World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011 before moving into the rotation and going 3-1 in seven starts last year. He is returning as a reliever.
“He threw all his pitches. He looked comfortable,” Washington said. “All we can do is build off it.”
Feliz got a nice ovation when he ran from the bullpen to the mound and then got two outs while facing one batter. Presley was thrown out trying to steal before Darin Mastroianni took a called third strike.
Mastroianni was thrown out trying to score in the first inning after a deke by second baseman Ian Kinsler when Brian Dozier doubled.
Running toward second, Mastroianni slid into the bag when Kinsler acted as he was turning a double play. But the ball was in left-center field. Mastroianni got up and started running again, but couldn’t beat Kinsler’s relay throw from center fielder Leonys Martin to catcher Geovany Soto, who blocked the plate from the sliding runner.
It was Martin’s 12th outfield assist this season, the most for a Texas player since Ruben Sierra’s 15 in 1991.
NOTES: Rangers SS Elvis Andrus was feeling better but didn’t play a day after coming out of Saturday night’s game with tightness in his lower back. Washington said he likely wouldn’t play Andrus on Monday. … Jim Adduci, among seven players added to the Rangers’ roster on Sunday, made his major league debut after 10 minor league seasons in three organizations. He started in left field and singled in his first big league at-bat. … The Twins added only Presley on the first day rosters could expand. Their top farm team is still in playoff contention. … Left-hander Derek Holland (9-6, 3.00 ERA) starts the series against the A’s, who are scheduled to throw righty Dan Straily (7-7, 4.41).