ARLINGTON, Texas -- Leonys Martin's two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth lifted the Texas Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night at Rangers Ballpark.
"It was a hard-fought battle," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Got ourselves in position in the end and Martin came through with a base hit for us."
Texas, which improved to a season-high 23 games over .500 at 79-56, goes for the series win in Sunday afternoon's finale.
The Rangers finished the month with 20 wins, setting a new team record for August. It also marked just the fourth 20-win month in team history and first since June 2010.
For the second consecutive night, the Rangers struggled offensively against the pitching-starved Twins and the game was tied at one entering the final inning. Alex Rios got the game-winning rally going with a one-out double in the ninth off Caleb Thielbar.
Pinch hitter Jeff Baker was intentionally walked, and Rios reached third on Jurickson Profar's sacrifice fly. Josh Roenicke came in and walked pinch hitter Craig Gentry to load the bases.
Facing lefty Brian Duensing, Martin stroked a 1-2 pitch to center to score Rios and end the ballgame with the Rangers' sixth walk-off win this season. It was the second walk-off hit by Martin.
"I was concentrating on getting a good pitch to hit and trying to get a base hit anywhere to win the game," he said.
Joe Nathan (5-2) earned the victory with a scoreless ninth.
Saturday's victory assures Texas will be leading the AL West when the Rangers embark on a six-game road trip Monday at second-place Oakland.
Texas starter Matt Garza didn't factor in the decision, but he bounced back from an ominous start and a string of sub-par outings with a solid seven-inning stint. Garza struck out nine, his high with the Rangers, and gave up just three hits.
"Normally you only give up two runs, you win the ballgame," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Garza was just throwing the living fire out of the ball. We were really happy with [Mike] Pelfrey, he was unbelievable. We just couldn't come up with any hits off Garza."
The Twins (58-76) got an equally effective seven innings out of Pelfrey, who fanned seven without a walk and allowed six hits. He came into the game with a 4.79 ERA on the road this season.
"His last outing was really good, too," Gardenhire said. "We like the way he's throwing the baseball. We think he's moving pretty good right now. Seems like he's pounding the strike zone really well."
Minnesota didn't wait long to get to Garza. Leadoff hitter Brian Dozier drove the third pitch of the ballgame just inside the left-field foul pole for a quick 1-0 lead.
The Rangers didn't waste time getting that run back off Pelfrey, but it came at a price. Elvis Andrus, who started at designated hitter, left the game with tightness in his lower back after going from first to third on Ian Kinsler's single in the bottom of the first inning.
Andrus' replacement, Adam Rosales, scored on a sacrifice fly from Adrian Beltre. The Rangers don't believe Andrus' injury is serious, listing the club's everyday shortstop as day-to-day.
NOTES: Twins 1B Justin Morneau was traded to Pittsburgh for OF Alex Presley and a player to be named later or cash. The 2006 MVP is in the final year of a six-year, $80 million contract. Morneau leaves Minnesota after 11 years on a high note, as his solo home run Friday proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win over Texas. His 221 home runs are third in club history behind Harmon Killebrew and Kent Hrbek. ... Texas RHP Neftali Feliz, DH Lance Berkman, RHP Nick Tepesch and LHP Michael Kirkman are expected to come off the disabled list and rejoin the club Sunday as rosters expand. Feliz is returning after being out 13 months recovering from Tommy John surgery.