Hot-hitting Rangers stifled in Minnesota

Holland unravels in sixth inning; Texas can't capitalize until ninth

Hot-hitting Rangers stifled in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Bad days have been a rarity this season for the recently red-hot Texas Rangers, but they stumbled through one on Saturday.

With a Texas offense that abruptly stalled out, the Minnesota Twins took advantage as they prevented the Rangers from clinching their sixth series win with a 7-2 rout.

"I think that's the first real bad [day] we've had," said manager Ron Washington, whose club entered having won seven of its previous eight games.

Rangers starter Derek Holland rebounded from a rocky appearance against the Angels five days earlier with a more controlled performance. But he slipped up just enough for the Twins to capitalize en route to ending their three-game losing streak.

Frustration had gripped Holland after giving up six runs and walking four batters Monday in Anaheim. Although the damage he endured Saturday was minimal (three earned runs and five hits in seven innings), the Rangers were unable to provide much support.

"He's been pitching and throwing the ball well," Washington said. "The results aren't there, but he's been throwing the ball well."

Holland (1-2, 3.38 ERA) rolled through the first five innings, with his only blemish coming when Aaron Hicks scored an unearned run on a sacrifice fly in the third inning.

While the Twins held a 1-0 lead, Holland was keeping them largely in check until he met Josh Willingham with two outs in the sixth inning. Holland fell behind in the count with three straight balls, but continued to go right back at the Twins slugger. When a slider dropped into his range, Willingham turned on it to send it rocketing into the left-field seats for a two-run homer.

"I made a fairly good pitch on him and he's a good hitter. You have to tip your hat to him," Holland said. "I wasn't going to give him anything too good to hit. ... I had been cruising. I felt strong, so I didn't want to change anything."

It didn't help Holland that the Rangers' lineup, with Elvis Andrus and Lance Berkman out on a scheduled day off, could not overcome the notably resilient Twins pitching staff.

Making his first start since April 7, Twins rookie left-hander Pedro Hernandez showed no negative signs from the limited workload in recent weeks. Hernandez made it through a major jam in the third inning to hold Texas to five hits, while striking out three before being pulled after five innings.

Keeping Texas off-balance with well-placed, but hittable pitches, Hernandez registered the first victory of his career.

"It was well-pitched by our side. Hernandez was fantastic," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He did exactly what was asked of him. He got us through those five innings even though he hadn't started in like three weeks in Baltimore. So we got exactly what we wanted from him."

The chances were there for the Rangers. Second baseman Ian Kinsler drilled a third-inning ground-rule double into center field -- the 10th of 11 doubles the Rangers have put up in the last three games -- to push Leury Garcia to third base with one out. Hernandez didn't yield, however, getting Craig Gentry and designated hitter Adrian Beltre to line out.

Another opportunity to rally came in the eighth after Kinsler reached third with one out after his second double and a stolen base. Twins reliever Jared Burton proceeded to swiftly retire the next two batters to halt the Rangers' last legitimate shot at getting back into the game.

The Rangers have been openly aggressive with their baserunning throughout the series. It ended up hurting them Saturday. Gentry was picked off trying to steal in the second inning. One inning later, streaking right fielder Nelson Cruz was thrown out at second base trying to turn his ninth hit in four games into a double.

Washington, however, did not offer any regret for sending both runners.

"The early outs today did not do anything to that ballgame. Nothing," Washington said.

Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland broke up the shutout with a too-little, too-late two-run double in the ninth inning off Twins closer Glen Perkins.

Nate Sandell is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.