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July 28, 2011

Rangers defeat Twins 4-1, split series

ARLINGTON – For three games at Rangers Ballpark, Texas and Minnesota had no problem scoring runs.

But in Thursday’s finale, both the Rangers and Twins finally flashed more defense.

Texas starting pitcher Matt Harrison gave up only one run in seven and 1/3 innings, and the Rangers had enough offensive output to reach a series tie with a 4-1 win.

While Harrison gave up eight hits to the Twins (49-56), he was able to work around most of them to improve to 9-7.

Texas had won the first of the four-game series Monday 20-6 before losing 9-8 and 7-2 Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Rangers (60-46) scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth. Elvis Andrus led off the inning with a single to center. Josh Hamilton followed with a line drive up the middle that moved Andrus to third. Then Michael Young became the third straight Texas hitter with a single to center, a hit that drove in Andrus.

Texas couldn’t score again in the inning, however, as Minnesota starter Scott Baker got out of the inning when Nelson Cruz flew out, Young was caught stealing and Mitch Moreland grounded out.

The Rangers did score again the next inning. Yorvit Torrealba led off with a double that skipped over first base and down the right-field line. He scored when Chris Davis, the next hitter, lofted a soft base hit into left field.

The Twins had many scoring opportunities against Harrison. They had at least one base runner in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. In the fourth, Harrison forced Jason Kubel to fly out after Michael Cuddyer hit a two-out double.

Jim Thome led off the fifth with a double, and Minnesota loaded the bases with two outs on two infield singles. But Harrison got Tsuyoshi Nishioka to ground out to Ian Kinsler, who flipped the ball to Andrus at second base.

The Twins did get on the scoreboard in the sixth. After Kubel hit into a double play with runners on first and second and no outs, Thome drove in Joe Mauer with a single to center.

Harrison bounced back with a shutdown seventh inning. He retired the Twins in order for the first time since the second inning. Harrison got one batter out in the eighth before issuing his first walk of the game to Mauer. Yoshinori Tateyama replaced Harrison and struck out Cuddyer. Rangers Left-handed Arthur Rhodes entered the game to face Kubel and. Kubel flied out to center, setting up closer Neftali Feliz’s 21st save.

Hamilton and Young made Feliz’s ninth inning a little more comfortable with two runs in the eighth. Hamilton hit a two-out triple and scored when Nelson Cruz reached base on an error by Minnesota third baseman Danny Valencia. Moreland drove in Young, who had been intentionally walked, with a single to end the scoring. Both runs were unearned.

Feliz had blown his last save opportunity, a 9-8 loss to Minnesota Tuesday in which he gave up two runs in the ninth.

Thursday, he struck out Thome, got Valencia to pop out and forced Delmon Young to ground out to end the game.

The Rangers will fly to Toronto to start a three-game series against the Blue Jays Friday.

– Brent Shirley



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