Twins 8, Rangers 5

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—The Texas Rangers’ bullpen couldn’t throw strikes, their defense was shaky, and the Minnesota Twins eagerly took advantage.

Doug Mientkiewicz had four hits, Shannon Stewart drove in two runs and the Twins rallied past the Rangers 8-5 Friday night to move within a half-game of the AL Central lead.

Matthew LeCroy homered for the Twins, who capitalized on three walks, a wild pitch and a hit batter in a three-run eighth inning. Mientkiewicz went 4-for-5, matching his career high for hits, and the Twins benefited from two Texas errors.

“The guys kept battling their tails off,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “This is the fun part of the year. We don’t care if it’s pretty or ugly. We’re trying to get games in the left-hand column.”

The Twins gained ground on division co-leaders Chicago and Kansas City. Both the White Sox and Royals lost Friday night.

“You’d be lying if you said you’re not looking at the scoreboard,” Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “You see the teams ahead of you lose, that gives you incentive to get back in the game and we did that.”

Rookie Laynce Nix had a three-run homer for the Rangers, who have lost seven of eight. They also learned before the game that slugger Juan Gonzalez probably won’t play again this season because of a lingering right calf injury.

Rangers starter John Thomson (12-11) carried a 5-3 advantage into the eighth before the Twins came back against Thomson and two relievers.

Minnesota got to 5-4 against Thomson when Stewart doubled and scored on Mientkiewicz’s single.

Thomson walked LeCroy, and reliever Ron Mahay walked Jacques Jones to load the bases.

Mahay’s wild pitch scored Mientkiewicz from third to tie the game at 5. After Mahay intentionally walked Torii Hunter to reload the bases, Rangers manager Buck Showalter brought in Brian Shouse, who hit Pierzynski with a 3-0 pitch to force in pinch-runner Dustan Mohr and give the Twins a 6-5 edge.

Rookie Grant Balfour (1-0) allowed two hits in two shutout innings of relief for his first major league decision.

Eddie Guardado got three outs for his 30th save in 33 opportunities.

Minnesota got six innings of shutout relief from Carlos Pulido, Balfour, LaTroy Hawkins and Guardado. Pulido made his first major league appearance since Aug. 7, 1994. The eight full seasons between big league games were the most since Minnie Minoso went from 1964 to 1976 between stints with the White Sox.

Thomson allowed six runs and eight hits over 7 2-3 innings.

The Rangers jumped on Twins starter Joe Mays with a four-run third inning to take a 5-1 lead on Alex Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly and Nix’s fifth homer.

Mays allowed five runs and five hits over three innings. He was angry when Gardenhire told him he was going to the bullpen.

Gardenhire was upset because he said Mays checked the Twins’ defensive chart after the second inning to see why Todd Greene’s single wasn’t caught.

“That’s not right,” Gardenhire said. “He’s worried about where the ball landed. I think he lost concentration. That’s why he gave up the home run. We’re not going to have that. This is a team. I talked to him and I think he understands.”

Minnesota took a 1-0 lead in the second on LeCroy’s 15th homer.

Texas tied it at 1 in the second when Mark Teixeira tripled and scored on Greene’s single.

The Twins reduced the deficit to 5-3 in the fifth on Stewart’s two-run single.

Minnesota padded its lead to 8-5 with a two-run ninth as Texas committed two errors on the scoring play.

With runners on first and second, Mientkiewicz singled and Shane Spencer threw wildly to the plate as Chris Gomez scored from second. Greene recovered the ball and threw toward third in an attempt to catch Luis Rivas, but his off-target throw allowed Rivas to score.

“We were not good defensively and we had no offense after the third,” Showalter said. “We missed some cutoff men, which is a break from what we’vebeen doing well. We were all frustrated.”

Notes

Mays, who hasn’t won since June 19, will be replaced in the rotation by Balfour. … After the game, the Rangers optioned RHP Rosman Garcia to Triple-A Oklahoma. That creates a roster spot for RHP Mickey Callaway, who will bebrought up from Oklahoma for Saturday’s start.

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