MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Texas Rangers stopped their eight-game losing streak with some extra patience.
The Rangers ended their season-worst skid and remained tied for the AL West lead with a 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins, after Robbie Grossman and Leody Taveras sparked a four-run ninth inning Saturday with consecutive bases-loaded walks.
“They’ve been going through a lot when you go through a stretch like this, so good for them,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “We had some great at-bats there in the ninth inning.”
Adolis García and Mitch Garver, who both homered, greeted reliever Griffin Jax (5-8) with back-to-back singles. Ezequiel Duran got hit in the shoulder with a one-out pitch to load the bases, before Grossman escaped an 0-2 hole by taking three straight balls, fouling one off and drawing the go-ahead walk.
Dylan Floro relieved Jax, and hit Marcus Semien with a pitch to force in another run, and Corey Seager gave the Rangers a four-run lead with a sacrifice fly. The final tally was three walks and two hit batsmen in that inning.
“This game’s about momentum,” Grossman said, “and that was huge for us tonight.”
Brock Burke (5-2) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win for Texas, which has been in first or tied for it for all but one day this season. The Rangers (73-56) stayed even with Seattle (73-56) for the division lead, one game ahead of Houston (73-58).
“I wouldn’t put it as a relief. Look, we’re a great team,” said starting pitcher Max Scherzer, who enjoyed an eight-game winning streak shortly after his arrival in a trade with the Mets.
The Twins (67-63) remained six games ahead of Cleveland in the AL Central.
Twins closer Jhoan Durán faced just three batters in the eighth, with catcher Christian Vázquez ending it on his second thwarted stolen base attempt of the game. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said he used Duran before Jax because he was fresher for the top of the Texas lineup.
“Griff’s been excellent,” Baldelli said. “I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from him. Today wasn’t his day.”
García gave the Rangers a brief lead in the sixth with his career-high 32nd home run that admired with a couple of slow steps before glancing toward the Twins dugout and initiating his jog around the bases.
The Rangers were irked Thursday when Ryan Jeffers flipped his bat in the air on the winning homer. The two teams exchanged beanballs and cleared the benches to argue about it Friday in Minnesota’s 12-2 win.
Jorge Polanco homered and Max Kepler hit an RBI double off Scherzer, who had 10 strikeouts in seven innings with two runs allowed. The three-time Cy Young Award winner, who is 9-2 in 17 career starts against the Twins, faced them for the first time since 2014 when he was with Detroit.
Twins starter Joe Ryan made a smooth return after an absence of three-plus weeks to a groin strain, with seven strikeouts and one run allowed in five innings. With veteran Dallas Keuchel filling while Ryan was sidelined, the Twins are considering a six-man rotation to carry them into the final month.
Ryan gave up Garver’s homer in the second, his 26th allowed this season for the fourth-highest rate among qualified pitchers in the major leagues. Grossman smashed a double into the right-field corner later in that inning, but shortstop Carlos Correa — who ran over to to take the throw from Kepler — fired a perfect relay home to Vázquez to get Duran trying to score from first base.
“That was so cool,” said Ryan who watched the play unfold from behind the plate.
Rangers: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (forearm strain) will throw a bullpen session when the team is in New York next week for a three-game series against the Mets. There’s been no determination yet on whether Eovaldi, who has been sidelined for a month, will be sent on a rehab assignment.
Twins: CF Michael A. Taylor was out for the second straight game as a precaution with hamstring tightness. Joey Gallo played CF in place of Taylor, who homered twice in the series opener Thursday.
Rangers: LHP Jordan Montgomery (8-10, 3.12 ERA) pitches Sunday. He has allowed five runs in 26 innings over four starts since his acquisition in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals on the same day as Scherzer.
Twins: RHP Bailey Ober (6-6, 3.41 ERA) takes the mound for the series finale.