MINNEAPOLIS -- On the warmest night of the season at Target Field, Rangers rookie Nick Tepesch kept the Twins' bats cold, and Texas beat Minnesota 2-1 Thursday.
Tepesch dominated the Twins through the first six innings, allowing two hits and no runs, before he yielded Josh Willingham
's solo homer in the seventh.
"It was a very nice performance," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He was very efficient with his pitches. He was executing."
Tepesch (2-1) wound up pitching 6 2/3 innings. He allowed five hits and no walks while striking out one.
The Rangers got an RBI single from Nelson Cruz
in the second inning and a run-scoring double from Elvis Andrus
in the fifth. They cooled off in the later innings, struggling to get the clutch hit to score any runs. However, with Tepesch's pitching performance and some tight defense behind them, the offense did enough to win the game.
Former Twins closer Joe Nathan pitched the ninth inning for the Rangers and earned his seventh save of the season.
The Rangers opened the scoring in the second when Adrian Beltre doubled off the center field wall and moved to third on a fielder's choice. Cruz hit a blast high off the right field wall and was thrown out going to second as Beltre strolled home.
Twins starter Vance Worley (0-3) gave up two runs and six hits, throwing 102 pitches in five innings.
"Everything was coming out of my hand a little up the first couple innings, and after that I settled down and everything worked the way I wanted to," Worley said. "They fouled off a lot of pitches, got my pitch count up and made it a little tougher for me to go deeper into the game, but for the most part, I am happy with what I did today."
In the fifth, Leonys Martin singled and then scored on Andrus' double down the left field line. Still, Worley kept his team in the game before handing it over to the bullpen.
Tepesch retired the first 12 batters he faced before Justin Morneau led off the fifth with a single to right.
In the seventh, the Twins finally got to the right-hander.
Willingham hit a line drive that just crept over the left field wall for a home run. Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe hit back-to-back singles to finish Tepesch's night.
"(Tepesch) just threw one too many sliders," Washington said, "and Willingham, the professional hitter that he is, was sitting on it and didn't miss it. He did exactly what he wanted to do with it."
Robbie Ross entered, and he retired pinch hitter Ryan Doumit on a grounder to end the inning.
The Twins threatened again in the eighth, loading the bases with one out against Tanner Scheppers. The Rangers intentionally walked Joe Mauer to pitch to Willingham, and the strategy worked when Willingham grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"Once again we had Willingham up there, a guy that can hurt you," Washington said. "If we pitch to Mauer right there and he gets a base hit, it's a tie ballgame -- they might even win it. But we took the chance on he could induce a ground ball -- (Willingham) was definitely a double-play candidate, and (Scheppers) threw the pitch that he needed to get it done, and (shortstop) Andrus and (second baseman Ian) Kinsler did a good job turning it."
It was a pivotal play in a game that was tough to swallow from the other side.
"We had our chances, when you get Willie up there in that situation," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Willingham. "He hit a bullet right at (Andrus). They had him played there and were pounding him inside. He a hard ground ball that started a double play.
"It was a good ballgame, an exciting ballgame, and we were one hit away. It's a credit to their pitchers. They made the pitches when they had to."
Kinsler finished with three hits, while Cruz had two.
NOTES: Game-time temperature was 51 degrees -- the first game at Target Center this season that hit 50 degrees. ... Coming into the game, Minnesota pitchers had walked just 40 batters, the fewest in baseball. (Milwaukee had 49). The Twins issued three walks Thursday. ... The Rangers streak of homering in eight straight games ended.
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