Twins 8, Rangers 5

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Ryan Drese was doing exactly what he wanted to do. The Texas sinkerballer was keeping the ball down, coaxing grounders.

And Minnesota still kept getting hits—13 off Drese in just 3 2-3 innings, the right-hander’s shortest outing of the season. That helped the AL Central-leading Twins build an early lead in an 8-5 victory Wednesday night.

“Early in the game off Drese, we really didn’t hit the ball very hard,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We hit a lot of choppers, blooped and blopped them. He was throwing sinkers, we were beating them in the ground and running around the bases.”

Only one Minnesota starter didn’t have a hit the first two innings, when the Twins already had 10 hits and a 6-2 lead. They had four infield singles and a bloop to left while scoring twice on grounders and then on Drese’s errant pickoff throw.

“I had the worst luck of my life tonight,” Drese said. “I never at any level of baseball in my entire life experienced anything like this. I made some good pitches, got some weak grounders, but they got hits on every single one.”

The 13 hits were a career high allowed by Drese, and just one shy of the team record. His career-best winning streak was snapped at four and his home ERA, which was the best in the AL, jumped from 2.17 to 2.78.

“Drese kept competing, even after an unfortunate couple of innings,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s a groundball pitcher and he was getting groundballs. That’s why it was so frustrating.”

No. 9 hitter Luis Rivas had a double and triple off Drese, then homered against Carlos Almanzar leading off the eighth. Lew Ford went 3-for-5, a triple and two singles off Drese.

Justin Morneau, back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a swollen hand, drove in runs with a groundout and a single the first two innings. His solo homer in the fourth made it 7-3 and was the last run off Drese.

Minnesota, which finished with 17 hits, maintained its eight-game division lead, while Texas lost for the third time in four games since an eight-game winning streak and dropped two games behind Boston in the wild-card race. The Rangers have 70 wins, just one shy of their total last season.

Kyle Lohse (7-10) allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings.

“I’ve been there before, it’s good to be on the other side,” Lohse said. “Everybody was swinging the bat. We scored more than them, that’s the bottom line.”

Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 38 chances, escaping a bases-loaded jam when Laynce Nix hit a game-ending flyout to deep center.

The Twins started the game with three straight singles, including Jacque Jones’ infield hit that deflected off Drese and Torii Hunter when the ball dribbled only a few feet down the third-base line after he took a full swing.

“We didn’t hit too many balls hard,” Jones said. “We hit enough balls and put them in enough spots and scored enough runs.”

Morneau’s groundout pushed home the first run, and Ford followed with a slow roller to shortstop for an RBI single. Hunter scored on the throwing error by Drese, and Corey Koskie’s RBI double made it 4-0.

“I don’t believe in the term cheap hits,” Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. “If that happened for us, we would have taken it.”

Hank Blalock hit his 28th homer in the bottom of the first, a two-run drive. It was his fourth homer over a six-game stretch in which he has hit .435 (10-for-23).

R.A. Dickey allowed just one hit while retiring 10 of 11 batters in 3 1-3 innings after taking over for Drese.

David Dellucci, in the leadoff spot for Texas for the first time, went 4-for-5 with an RBI single in the fourth. It was Dellucci’s fifth four-hit game and second this season. Young set a career high with his 15th homer, a solo shot in the third.

Notes

Koskie has a 13-game hitting streak, matching a career high that he’s reached two other times. He’s hitting .375 in the latest streak. … The only Twins starter without a hit was Henry Blanco, who was 0-for-5 and is hitting just .138 (8-for-58) the last 21 games. … Dellucci has reached base in 26 of 53 plate appearances his last 12 starts.

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