The Texas Rangers needed a night like Friday in the worst of ways.
Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre (29) is congratulated by left fielder Shin-Soo Choo (17) as he crosses home plate on his two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of a baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Jim Cowsert / USA TODAY Sports
By Anthony Andro
ARLINGTON, Texas - The Texas Rangers needed a night like Friday in the worst of ways.
The longest losing streak by the Rangers in nine seasons has been marked by poor starting pitching and an inept offense.
At least for a night that changed against the Minnesota Twins.
Nick Tepesch authored one of the best pitching performances of his career and Adrian Beltre gave an early spark to team that hadn't led a game since last Saturday as the Rangers held off a late Minnesota charge 5-4. The win snapped an eight-game slide for Texas, it's longest since August of 2005.
The schizophrenic Texas pitching staff rebounded from a series against Detroit in which it was tagged for 22 runs by carrying a shutout into the ninth inning.
Tepesch (3-3) set the tone as he matched a career high by pitching 7 1/3 innings, allowing just three singles and facing only one real jam. Tepesch, who hadn't won a start since May 26, struck out five including Eduardo Escobar on an 0-2 curveball to end the fourth inning with the bases loaded.
"He was outstanding," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We needed a well-pitched game and he gave it to us. He was able to spot his fastball. He was able to throw his breaking ball. He was able to keep the ball down. He did exactly what we needed him to do and he deserves a lot of credit for tonight."
Tepesch walked just two and threw 67 of his 106 pitches for strikes.
"Just able to command all four of my pitches and just commanding them in the zone and out of the zone and where I needed to command them," Tepesch said.
Tepesch, Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts put Texas in line for its 14th shutout heading into the ninth before closer Joakim Soria struggled. Minnesota scored four times and had the tying run at third before Soria got Kurt Suzuki to ground out to third to end the game.
While Tepesch was dazzling, a new-look lineup had enough punch thanks to a constant in the No. 4 spot in Beltre.
Even though the Texas offense struggled mightily in the losing streak, Beltre has not. He came into the game 9 for his last 14 and quickly made that 10 for 15 when he lined a full-count offering off Kevin Correia into the Texas bullpen with two outs in the first inning.
Beltre's homer scored Shin-Soo Choo, who moved back to the leadoff spot after 17-straight games batting in the No. 3 spot and responded with his first three-hit game since May 2. Washington said he wanted to shake his lineup up by moving Choo back to the top, Carlos Pena to the No. 3 spot and Leonys Martin to No. 6.
The moves paid off for the night at least as Choo's three hits included an RBI double in the fifth inning while Pena and Martin each had hits. Beltre finished with three RBI, bringing home the final run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly after Pena's single moved Elvis Andrus to third.
While that run was insurance at the time, it proved to be the game winner.
The Rangers had eight hits and Washington expects to trot out a similar lineup Saturday.
"We'll run the same one out there tomorrow and see what happens," Washington said. "I just felt I'll shake it up a little bit and get him (Choo) back up there at the top and it worked. He swung the bat well and had some good at-bats. Everyone in the lineup did a good job battling for their at-bats. Hopefully we can continue it."