Rangers 2, Twins 1
A night after scoring a season-high nine runs in one inning, the bleary-eyed Texas Rangers struggled to push across two all night in Minnesota following a late-night, cross-country flight.
It was more than enough run support for well-rested rookie starter Nick Tepesch.
Tepesch, who flew ahead of the team the night before to get a good night's sleep, pitched six strong innings for his second win to lead the first-place Rangers over the Twins 2-1 on Thursday night.
The 24-year-old righty cruised through Minnesota's lineup for most of the night. He held Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau to a combined 2 for 11. Mauer was held hitless for only the fourth time this season.
''Their two, three, four hitters are about the best you'll see in Major League Baseball,'' Rangers manager Ron Washington said. ''Going through them three times, he did a good job.''
Tepesch (2-1) allowed five hits in 6 2-3 innings. He shut the Twins out through six before Willingham homered in the seventh inning to make it 2-1. Tepesch had allowed only two baserunners up to that point and showed no lingering effects from taking a liner off his right forearm in his previous start against Seattle last weekend.
''I didn't feel like I was extra out of ordinary,'' Tepesch said. ''I felt like I commanded my pitches pretty well, and I felt like I was pretty good tonight.''
Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz each drove in runs, and Ian Kinsler went 3 for 5 with a double to help the Rangers win for the sixth time in seven games.
Minnesota starter Vance Worley (0-3) allowed two runs and six hits in five innings. Minnesota tried to cobble together two late rallies, but Willingham hit into a bases-loaded double play in the eighth, and Ryan Doumit's long fly ball with one on and two out in the ninth fell just short in left field.
''We were one hit away,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The Rangers landed in the Twin Cities at 6 a.m. on Thursday and didn't look nearly as good against Worley as they did the night before against the Angels in Los Angeles.
They didn't need to with Tepesch retiring the first 12 batters he faced before Morneau singled up the middle to lead off the fifth.
''The kid had a live fastball, a live arm,'' Gardenhire said. ''The ball was jumping on our hitters. He was cutting it and had a nice little breaking ball.''
The Twins finally got to Tepesch in the seventh when Willingham drove a fastball 351 feet into the left-field seats. Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe each followed with two-out singles to chase Tepesch. Robbie Ross relieved to get Doumit on a groundout to end the inning.
Tanner Scheppers induced Willingham into his eighth-inning double play, and Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his seventh save in as many chances.
Cruz, who has RBIs in five-straight games, drove in his club-leading 18th run of the season in the second on a single that scored Adrian Beltre from third. Andrus made it 2-0 in the fifth with a run-scoring double.
''Two was enough,'' Cruz said.
NOTES: Tepesch has not walked a batter since walking three in the second inning of his debut on April 9. ... Andrus has no errors in his last 80 chances, the longest streak of any shortstop in the AL. ... Worley hasn't won a start since Aug. 1 of last season, when he played for Philadelphia. ... The Rangers pitching staff has allowed two runs or less in nine of 21 games. ... Twins CF Aaron Hicks is hitting just .086, but has reached base in seven straight games. ... The Rangers will try for their third-straight win on Friday night when they send right-hander Justin Grimm (1-0) to the mound. Scott Diamond (1-1) will pitch for the Twins.