Making his second start since having surgery on the middle finger of his pitching hand at the end of spring training, Eaton (1-1) earned his first win with the Rangers.
“I thought his command was a little better. He got to that fourth inning and was able to get back into step. There were a lot of groundballs and he had good life on his fastball. He had a lot of different looks and got strike one a lot,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “We were contemplating whether to pitch him yesterday or today, and I’m glad we waited another day.”
Michael Young also homered for the Rangers, who won for only the second time in nine games.
Minnesota’s Scott Baker (3-7) allowed a career-high seven earned runs in 3 1-3 innings and was demoted to Triple-A Rochester after the game.
The right-hander began the season as Minnesota’s fifth starter, but was sent to Rochester on June 1 after going 2-5 with a 6.06 ERA in nine outings. In three starts since being recalled July 11, he gave up 16 earned runs in 14 2-3 innings for a 9.82 ERA.
“I can’t be mad at the situation,” he said. “I’m not providing the good starts the team needs.”
After missing Sunday’s scheduled start because of stomach virus, Eaton allowed four hits, walked four and struck out four. C.J. Wilson and Scott Feldman finished the five-hitter, Texas’ sixth shutout this year.
The Twins were blanked for the ninth time.
“This is kind of what I was expecting in the first start, but I made it through the fourth inning this time,” said Eaton, who lasted only 3 2-3 innings against the Yankees last Tuesday. “It was nice to have a sinker that I hadn’t had all year, including spring training.”
Baker got to strike two often for Minnesota, but couldn’t put the Texas hitters away, especially when the Rangers broke loose in the fourth for eight runs.
“Seven of the hitters had two strikes and all of them got on base,” Minnesota pitching coach Rick Anderson said. “He needed to establish what his out pitch was and tonight he didn’t have one, he didn’t go to anything to put anybody away. When you’re in great counts as a pitcher you have to bury them and put them away.”
With one out, a single by Hank Blalock scored Carlos Lee, who doubled off the right-field baggie to start the inning. Ian Kinsler followed with a single before Matt Stairs hit a grounder to Nick Punto at third.
Punto double-pumped, then threw wide of Luis Castillo at second base, allowing Blalock to score on the error and moving Kinsler to third. Rod Barajas was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Brad Wilkerson hit an RBI single for a 3-0 Texas lead.
“We just missed a play. We don’t do that very often,” said Twins third base coach Scott Ullger, who filled in as manager for the second straight night in place of an ill Ron Gardenhire.
Matthews worked the count full before hitting a 426-foot shot to right that landed about 10 rows into the upper deck.
“I had a big hit, but the real story is Adam throwing shutout baseball and giving our bullpen a break,” Matthews said.
Texas relievers allowed seven runs in 6 1-3 innings Monday.
Young followed Matthews’ shot with an opposite-field homer, also on a 3-2 pitch, to end Baker’s night.
Mark Teixeira added an RBI single in the ninth.
Pat Neshek struck out a career-high four in 2 2-3 hitless innings out of the Minnesota bullpen.
Minnesota also optioned INF Terry Tiffee to Triple-A Rochester after the game and announced it will recall RHP Boof Bonser and reinstate RHP Matt Guerrier from the 15-day disabled list. Bonser will start Wednesday in place of LHP Francisco Liriano, who has inflammation in his left forearm. Guerrier has been inactive since June 9 with a right thumb fracture. … Texas recalled Feldman from Triple-A Oklahoma and optioned pitcher John Rheinecker to the RedHawks. … Barajas threw out Castillo and Punto trying to steal second base three pitches apart in the third inning. Barajas entered the game with a 30.6 percent success rate.