ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Chan Ho Park had a good reason to smile.
“It was great,” said Park, who has just 13 wins since signing a $65 million, five-year contract with Texas before the 2002 season. “I understand there has been a lot of disappointment from the fans. I had so much fun today.”
Park (3-4) allowed two runs and four hits to win for the first time since May 12 against Tampa Bay. He struck out four and walked three. The 31-year-old right-hander went on the disabled list May 20 with a sore back.
Park, who had not won at home since Sept. 12, 2002, warmed up to start the seventh and was relieved by Ron Mahay. Park received a standing ovation and wore a big grin as he walked toward the dugout.
He has been on the disabled list five times since joining the Rangers. He never was on the DL in six full seasons with Los Angeles before that.
“It was good for him to be able to smile,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “It was something we wanted to see. He’s had a lot of negative crawling around him.”
Hank Blalock homered for the fifth time in six games and Texas (71-55) equaled its win total from last year. He and Alfonso Soriano each had three RBIs for the Rangers, who are 2 1/2 games behind first-place Oakland in the AL West. Texas also remained two games behind Boston in the wild-card race.
Blalock hit a two-run homer— his 29th—and Soriano added a two-run triple as Texas scored four runs in the fourth to take a 7-0 lead in support of Park.
“We got whacked early,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We had a chance to score some runs early, but (Park) made some nice pitches to help himself.”
Minnesota loaded the bases against Park in the first inning with two singles and a walk. He then retired nine a row and did not allow another hit until the Twins touched him for two runs in the sixth.
Justin Morneau had an RBI double and Corey Koskie added a run-scoring single for Minnesota in the sixth. Mahay pitched two scoreless innings, and Frank Francisco gave up an RBI double to Luis Rivas in the ninth.
Terry Mulholland (4-7) allowed seven runs and nine hits in 3 2-3 innings for the AL Central-leading Twins.
Minnesota’s starters were 7-0 with a 2.85 ERA in the previous 10 games.
The Rangers got a scare when Soriano was hit in the helmet by a pitch in the eighth inning. Showalter and trainer Jaime Reed immediately came out of the dugout and walked with Soriano to first base—but he was smiling near the bag before leaving for a pinch-runner.
“It’s not easy when the ball comes at your head,” Soriano said. “It was scary, but I’m OK. I feel lucky. It could have been really bad.”
But Lew Ford struck out and Koskie flied out to the warning track in center as Park got out of the jam.
“We’ve been scoring a lot of runs early,” Morneau said. “If Koskie’s ball goes two more feet, we’re ahead 4-0. It would have been a different game.”
Texas scored in the bottom of the first on Soriano’s RBI double.
The Rangers added two in the second on Blalock’s RBI single and Eric Young’s sacrifice fly. Blalock has 12 RBIs in his past seven games.
Texas’ Rod Barajas had an RBI single in the fifth. … Koskie went 1-for-4 to extend his career-best hitting streak to 14 games.