MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Texas Rangers have been beset by injuries this year, particularly the pitching staff. Their team ERA is the second-worst in the league.
The resolve hasn’t been a problem, though. Neither has scoring runs.
Mitch Moreland had four RBIs on a career-high four hits, including a two-run homer to help the Rangers stave off a sweep at Minnesota and rally past the Twins for a 6-5 victory Thursday.
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”We needed that one,” Moreland said. ”Good to carry a little bit of momentum back home.”
The Rangers have won seven of their past eight games in their own ballpark. Despite the glut of teams just ahead of them in the race, the wild-card spots are still within striking distance, as is the AL West title.
”We’ve just got to play with the grit every day from here on out that we showed today,” said manager Jeff Banister, after his team blew a late lead Tuesday in a 3-2 loss and was overwhelmed Wednesday 11-1.
Elvis Andrus hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth inning against Casey Fien (2-5) after Adrian Beltre and Moreland, who surpassed his career-best season RBI total with 61, started the inning with singles.
The Twins are a half-game ahead of the Rangers in a chase for two AL wild-card spots.
”It’s a matter of turning the page,” manager Paul Molitor said. ”It’s all you can really do.”
That’s what Chi Chi Gonzalez did on this sweltering Texas-like afternoon in his return to the rotation after some time in Triple-A.
Trevor Plouffe’s home run and RBI doubles by Chris Herrmann and Shane Robinson got the Twins going in a four-run second inning. A slick wide slide by Eddie Rosario around catcher Chris Gimenez’s tag, while teammate Eduardo Escobar was going back and forth in a rundown between first and second, gave the Twins another run.
Gonzalez got Miguel Sano, who homered twice and drove in six runs Wednesday, to end that inning with the bases loaded by reaching for a 1-0 slider and popping out to shallow right field.
”Sometimes I’ve got to slow myself down, embrace the game and realize what’s happening,” said Gonzalez, who gave up five hits, five runs and five walks in 5 2-3 innings while striking out four.
Twins starter Ervin Santana squandered his 4-0 lead, thanks to the towering two-run shot by Moreland in the fourth and a two-run, go-ahead double by the first baseman in the fifth. Prince Fielder’s RBI single came right before that.
Keone Kela (6-5) got four outs for the victory after giving up a tying single to Aaron Hicks in the sixth in relief of Gonzalez. Center fielder Delino DeShields and the shortstop Andrus made sharp throws to keep Shane Robinson from sliding in with the go-ahead run and end that inning.
Shawn Tolleson pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 22 tries, his first action in five days.
”Just a calm, cool guy in that ninth. We feel comfortable with him out there,” Banister said.
Nick Martinez, who gave up a career-high 11 hits and seven runs in 3 2-3 innings in the 11-1 loss by the Rangers on Wednesday, was sent back to Triple-A to make room for Gonzalez, who was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2013 and made seven starts earlier this season.
Gonzalez was filling in for Cole Hamels, whose scheduled start Thursday was skipped because of a sore left groin muscle. Hamels is expected to take the mound again Monday.
Rangers: LF Josh Hamilton was out again with a sore left knee, and he’ll have an MRI on Friday. … RHP Jake Diekman, who pitched a perfect eighth, was hit square on the buttocks by a line drive from Rosario but recovered to throw him out.
Twins: LHP Tommy Milone will come off the DL (strained left elbow) to start Sunday. But RHP Phil Hughes (lower back inflammation) will take his place on the shelf.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (1-2, 5.81 ERA) will start Friday against Tampa Bay opposite RHP Nathan Karns (7-5, 3.52 ERA) of the Rays.
Twins: RHP Trevor May (8-7, 4.09 ERA) will move up from the bullpen and start Friday against Cleveland, opposite RHP Corey Kluber (7-12, 3.46 ERA) of the Indians.