Twins-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

The Texas Rangers know they'll remain in sole possession of first place Monday when they head into a key road series with their closest pursuer in the AL West.

Whether Elvis Andrus will be ready for that set remains to be seen.

With the status of their shortstop uncertain, the Rangers look to build momentum for their upcoming trip by taking this three-game series from the visiting Minnesota Twins on Sunday.

Texas (79-56) has a two-game division lead over Oakland, where it begins a six-game California trip on Monday. Before the Rangers can worry about that pivotal series, they'll look to build on Saturday's 2-1 win over Minnesota (58-76).

Leonys Martin hit a bases-loaded single with two out in the ninth to give Texas its 23rd win in 30 games.

"We put ourself in a position to win, and Leonys came through,'' manager Ron Washington said.

However, the victory didn't come without a price after Andrus left in the first inning because of tightness in his lower back. Batting .364 with seven RBIs in his last 11 games, Andrus continues to deal with back problems that have plagued him most of the season.

Teammate Adrian Beltre drove in the other run with a sacrifice fly, but is 1 for 7 in the series.

The Rangers could be in for a stiff test Sunday against Kevin Correia (8-10, 4.32 ERA), who gave up six hits in eight innings of a 5-0 victory over them April 28.

The right-hander has a 1.93 ERA over his last four starts despite a 1-2 record. He gave up six hits and struck out seven over seven scoreless innings while not factoring in the decision of a 6-1 loss to Kansas City on Tuesday.

"A strong effort by him throwing the ball," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins' official website. "He used all of his pitches, he had them all working for him."

Hours after trading longtime star and fan favorite Justin Morneau to Pittsburgh in exchange for outfielder Alex Presley, the Twins managed five hits while losing for the sixth time in seven games Saturday.

Brian Dozier homered for one of his two hits. Three of his seven hits in the last 26 at-bats have been home runs, and Dozier is 7 for 22 against the Rangers this season.

Minnesota faces Travis Blackley (2-1, 4.80), who is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts since he was acquired from Houston on Aug. 14. He allowed three runs in six innings of an 8-3 victory at Seattle on Monday.

"He has an idea of what he is doing out there," Washington told the Rangers' official website. "He's able to change speeds, use his changeup and curveball and move his fastball around."

The left-hander allowed a homer to Trevor Plouffe and two other hits over five innings while not factoring in the decision of his only previous start versus Minnesota, a 5-4 loss while pitching for Oakland on May 28, 2012.

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