MINNEAPOLIS -- After allowing a combined four runs over his previous five starts, Rangers ace Cole Hamels turned in his worst outing of the year, allowing five runs in a season-low four-plus innings in a 5-4 loss to the Twins on Sunday at Target Field.
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier led the way offensively with a two-run triple in the third and came around to score on an RBI single from Robbie Grossman. The Twins also scored twice in the fifth after loading the bases with nobody out through Max Kepler's RBI single.
"He lives off his cutter to that changeup, but he wasn't really commanding that cutter," Dozier said of their approach against Hamels. "He had to go to his fastball and lost his command and left the ball over the plate. With good pitchers like that, you have to take advantage of their mistakes, and we did that."
The offense backed right-hander Kyle Gibson, who gave up a leadoff homer to Shin-Soo Choo before settling in. Gibson went 6 2/3 innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks. He was hurt by a throwing error from third baseman Miguel Sano with two outs in the seventh. Choo made the Twins pay with a two-out, two-run double off reliever Ryan Pressly, with the unearned runs being charged to Gibson. Relievers Fernando Abad and Brandon Kintzler combined to throw two scoreless innings with Kintzler getting his fourth save despite giving up a two-out double to Robinson Chirinos.
Hamels, who went 4-0 with a 1.51 ERA in six June starts, didn't have his best stuff, giving up a season-high 10 hits and walking three. It was his shortest start since joining the Rangers last year, as he fell to 9-2 with a 2.93 ERA this season. The defeat also snapped a franchise-record nine straight road wins for Hamels, dating back to last season.
"All of a sudden I couldn't find it," Hamels said. "I wasn't able to throw my offspeed [pitches] for strikes, and my fastball tended to leak over the plate. I've got to make an adjustment, and I wasn't able to do that."
The Rangers have lost four of their last five games. They were also 11-0-2 in their last 13 series before dropping two of three to the Twins. This was their first series loss since they were swept by the Athletics from May 16-18 in Oakland.
"This is the big leagues," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Every team in the big leagues is capable. Their starter threw as good of a game as he has all year."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dozier goes oppo: Dozier is known as a pull hitter, but he delivered a two-out, two-run triple off the wall in right field as part of a three-run third inning. It was the 13th extra-base hit for Dozier over his last 13 games.
"The previous at-bat he threw me two changeups that were pretty much unhittable, so in my second one, he did what smart pitchers do and came right back trying to exploit that weakness," Dozier said. "He went changeup, changeup, ball, ball, but then left a fastball over the plate." More >
Desmond near miss: The Rangers trailed, 5-2, with two out in the seventh, but a bases-loaded double by Choo scored two, although Chirinos was held at third with Ian Desmond coming up. Desmond, with the count 2-2, lined one down the right-field line that was foul by just a couple of feet. He ended up hitting a grounder to Sano, who fumbled the ball but recovered and got the ball to first just in time for the inning-ending out.
"We hit some balls hard today right at people," Banister said. More >
Twin outs at home: The Rangers threw out two Twins baserunners at home in the fourth inning. Kurt Suzuki led off the inning with a single and tried to score on a double by Eddie Rosario, but he was thrown out on the relay from Desmond and shortstop Elvis Andrus. Rosario went to third on the throw, then was thrown out trying to score on Danny Santana's grounder to Andrus.
"It was a little concerning we ran ourselves out of that inning without putting any points on the board," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But we were able to overcome it."
Kepler delivers knockout blow: The Twins loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth against Hamels to set the stage for Kepler, who had a Twins rookie record seven RBIs on Saturday. Kepler came through with an RBI single to knock Hamels from the game. The Twins added another run on an RBI fielder's choice from Rosario, who was initially ruled out at first base, but the call was overturned.
"We had a good approach to this series. When teams are hot swinging the bat, you can't pitch behind in the count. I feel like we pitched ahead in the count quite a bit, and that was the key to our success. It's a great series win." -- Gibson, on the Twins' pitching vs. the Rangers
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his two-run triple in the third inning, Dozier has reached base safely in 25 games, which is the longest active streak in the Majors.
The Twins won a challenge in the fifth that got them a run, as Rosario grounded into what was originally ruled a double play. But after a review, it was determined Rosario was safe at first base, and first-base umpire Dale Scott's call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: The Rangers open up a three-game series on Monday afternoon at Fenway Park against the Red Sox at 12:35 p.m. CT. The Rangers took two of three from Boston a week ago in Arlington. Nick Martinez will start the opener.
Twins: The Twins host the A's for a three-game series starting on Monday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (3-6, 5.31 ERA) is set to start, having struggled in his last outing, surrendering seven runs in 5 2/3 innings against the White Sox on Wednesday.