ARLINGTON -- The Twins jumped out to a four-run lead after two innings against Rangers starter Chi Chi Gonzalez and went on to a 10-1 victory Thursday night at Globe Life Park. The Twins have won three of four games against the Rangers over the past seven days.
Twins starter Tyler Duffey survived some serious command issues early and pitched six scoreless innings to earn his third straight win. He retired the last nine batters he faced and tied his season high with nine strikeouts.
"It was a good win, but it wasn't pretty early when we left men on base," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But we were able to score a little bit and get some big hits. Tyler was scuffling from the get-go, but he found a way."
Gonzalez allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings, while throwing 124 pitches, to take the loss, as the Rangers have dropped seven of their last nine games. Their starters are 0-5 with a 6.98 ERA in that stretch. Texas had to use a position player for the second time in less than a week as outfielder Jared Hoying pitched the ninth.
"I've been in this situation before," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Stomping my foot, screaming and yelling, is not going to work. There are a number of messages that need to be sent, but the bottom line is we've got to be better. We have to be better. It all starts with starting pitching. If you work behind and give up runs, it makes it challenging."
The Twins recorded a season high with 18 hits, including home runs from Kurt Suzuki, Max Kepler and Kennys Vargas -- who went deep off Hoying. Byron Buxton had an RBI single in a five-run eighth, giving every Twins player in the starting lineup at least one hit.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Nunez's mad dash: The Twins had the bases loaded with one out in the first, when Kepler hit a flare just over the infield. Shortstop Elvis Andrus raced out onto the grass and made a nice running catch before tumbling to the ground. Eduardo Nunez, at third base, alertly tagged up on the play and raced home for the Twins' first run.
"It's a tough read," Molitor said. "I think, instinctively, fast guys go back on that play, because if it drops, you'll still be able to score. But if he makes the catch, he doesn't have much time to recover. So it was a good play."
Rangers miss scoring chances: The Rangers had eight of 19 batters reach base in the first four innings on two hits, four walks and four hit batters. They still couldn't score, going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position during that span. Four of the at-bats ended with a strikeout. They had the bases loaded and one out in the first, and Jurickson Profar grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"This is the first time in this stretch we're in that we weren't able to score any runs," Banister said.
Rougned Odor tripled and scored on Andrus' single in the ninth for Texas' lone run.
Duffey gets it done: Duffey struck out five batters in the second and third innings. He just happened to give up a single and a walk in the second, and two walks in the third, but he stranded all four baserunners. It marked the seventh straight game a Twins starter lasted at least six innings, setting a season high. Twins starters are 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA in July.
"I've been in the process of learning how to slow the game down, and I think I did that today," Duffey said. "I was able to make adjustments mid-game to finish strong and keep it going. When we score early like that, I have to keep us in it, so it felt good at the end." More >
Tolleson's streak ends: Rangers reliever Shawn Tolleson, with the score 4-0, gave up Kepler's two-run home run in the eighth, ending his streak of 11 2/3 scoreless innings. It was also the first homer he has allowed since May 25, and he ended up allowing all five runs in the inning.
"It's a shame when you can't get runs in when you have runners on and less than two outs, but I got a second chance and took advantage of it. I redemptified myself. I made up that word." -- Kepler, who went 0-for-2 with the bases loaded before his homer
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Since pitch counts became official beginning in 1988, Gonzalez's 124 pitches are the most by a Rangers pitcher without completing five innings. The are the eighth most by any Major League pitcher with fewer than five innings pitched.
Suzuki had an RBI single in the eighth, and Eddie Rosario tried to go from first to third on the throw to the plate. Catcher Robinson Chirinos threw to third, but Rosario just beat it, and the call stood after the Rangers challenged.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson goes for his second straight win over the Rangers when he pitches against them at 7:05 p.m. CT on Friday in Arlington. Gibson has won his last two starts and has a 3.12 ERA in his last four.
Rangers: Left-hander Cole Hamels will start for Texas. Hamels allowed five runs in four innings -- his shortest outing of the season -- in his last start against the Twins.