Twins 10, Rangers 7

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Minnesota gave Johan Santana a six-run lead after three innings against its last-place opponent. No problem, right?

Not against Texas.

But Juan Rincon and the Twins’ bullpen made sure it stood up.

Cristian Guzman hit a three-run triple and Rincon pitched three outstanding innings of relief as Minnesota hung on to beat the Rangers 10-7 Friday night.

Rincon wasn’t expecting to pitch with Santana, the AL’s pitcher of the month for August, on the mound.

“I said, `Naw, we got it,”’ Rincon said. “But they’re good hitters. Santana, he didn’t have his best stuff tonight. We’re human. We’re going to fail once in awhile.”

Rincon (4-6) threw three perfect innings after Santana left with an 8-7 lead, and Guzman drove in a career-high four runs to keep the Twins tied with the White Sox atop the AL Central. Minnesota plays a four-game series at Chicago starting Monday.

Michael Young hit his first career grand slam, and Alex Rodriguez hit his major league-leading 41st homer for Texas.

“Anytime you’re facing that team over there in the other dugout, you never know what’s going to happen,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Those guys can hit it.”

The Rangers’ bullpen kept it close until the sixth, when Minnesota scored two off Joaquin Benoit. Luis Rivas led off with a triple and came home on Doug Mientkiewicz’s second sacrifice fly of the game. Matthew LeCroy made it 10-7 with his 16th homer.

“You can’t get too comfortable with these guys,” LeCroy said, “just because they’re in last place. They battle. They’re just not winning games.”

LaTroy Hawkins replaced Rincon in the eighth, and Eddie Guardado pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 35 chances.

“We got into a bit of a hole early against a tough team,” Young said. “Their bullpen is tough to come back against.”

Minnesota, which won its third straight, hit Mickey Callaway (1-6) hard after managing just two runs and five hits in six innings against him last Saturday in a 2-0 victory in Texas.

“Anytime a team is in the race, you can feel it,” Callaway said. “You try to go out and make it hard on them. I feel a little for them. I appreciate what they’re trying to do.”

Shannon Stewart led off the first with a double, moved up on a sacrifice by Luis Rivas and scored easily on a long sacrifice fly by Mientkiewicz.

Minnesota added three in the second on an RBI single by A.J. Pierzynski, a fielding error by second baseman Michael Young and a sacrifice fly by Stewart that made it 4-0. They took an 8-2 lead in the third when Guzman—batting with the bases loaded and two outs—tripled to the corner in right field and scored when the throw squirted past rookie catcher Gerald Laird, who was charged with an error.

Callaway gave up eight runs—six earned—six hits and three walks in 2 2-3 innings. His ERA rose to 7.66.

Santana struggled through the fourth. One-out walks to Ryan Christianson and Laird, the eighth- and ninth-place hitters, loaded the bases before Young hit his slam on a slider that didn’t slide.

One out later, Rodriguez crushed an 0-1 fastball an estimated 437 feet to center field, pulling the Rangers to 8-7.

“I was happy with the way we came back,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “Proud of the boys.”

Santana, who went 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA last month, gave up seven runs and eight hits in four innings.

“They hit the ball out of the park at any moment,” Santana said. “We won.That’s all that matters.”

Notes

Rodriguez was the AL’s player of the month in August. … Jones, who has been the Twins’ starter in LF since 2000, got his first start of the season in RF. Stewart doesn’t feel comfortable there, so he’ll be in left. … The Rangers (21-18) are guaranteed a winning record this year against the Central. … Guzman, who also had a three-run triple in Tuesday’s win over Anaheim, tied Boston’s Nomar Garciaparra for the major league lead with 13. Rivas has nine. Guzman, in his fifth season, moved into a tie for third place on the Twins’ all-time list with 56 triples. … Minnesota LHP Eric Milton, on a minor league rehab assignment, is scheduled to pitch Sunday for Double-A New Britain in the Eastern League semifinals. … Rangers reliever Aaron Fultz jammed his left wrist when he fell down backing up a play at the plate. He was removed forBenoit, but Showalter said he would’ve made the change anyway.

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