Eduardo Escobar's two-out double in the ninth inning drove in the winning run, capping a late rally by the Minnesota Twins for a much-needed 3-2 victory Tuesday night over the Texas Rangers.
Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano tied the game with RBI doubles in the eighth, and Glen Perkins (1-3) pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the win, just the seventh for the Twins in 23 games since the All-Star break.
Spencer Patton (1-1) quickly got the first two outs in the ninth. But he walked Kurt Suzuki before reaching the bottom of the order with Escobar, who grounded a full-count fastball down the right-field line. Suzuki scored easily and the Twins were able to smile and dance.
The Twins returned from a brutal road trip to Toronto and Cleveland when they went 1-6 and were outscored 60-27, pushing them into sixth place in the chase for two American League wild cards and prompting a players-only meeting in the clubhouse before batting practice.
Jake Diekman, acquired last month by the Rangers in the same trade with Philadelphia that fetched ace Cole Hamels, ominously walked Escobar to start the eighth inning. Brian Dozier nearly tied the game twice, one drive that hooked a few feet foul and another that center fielder Delino DeShields snagged at the wall with a slick sprinting catch. Mauer and Miguel Sano came through instead.
Elvis Andrus hit a two-run homer in the second inning, and Yovani Gallardo and the first two Rangers relievers nearly made that stand up.
Gallardo gave up only two singles and three walks in 5 2-3 shutout innings, but needed 100 pitches to get there. Gallardo, though an important cog in a Rangers rotation stung by season-long injuries to Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, has completed six innings only once in his last seven turns.
Mauer's sharp single was the only hit in the first 15 plate appearances by the Twins against Gallardo, who has settled back in after a bad July when he went 0-3 with a 5.64 ERA in six starts.
The Rangers have nudged closer in the wild-card race and even back into legitimate AL West contention, entering the evening just 4 1/2 games behind front-running Houston. But this was the type of loss they can ill afford at this point in the season.
Kyle Gibson recovered from a rough four-start stretch for the Twins, when he went 0-3 and allowed 22 runs in 22 innings, but all it took to spoil his night was an 0-1 slider left over enough of the plate for Andrus to send a line drive into the flower bed atop the left-field wall.
The Rangers scratched Cole Hamels from his scheduled start Thursday because of a sore left groin, and either Chi Chi Gonzalez or Anthony Ranaudo will be brought up from Triple-A to take his turn in the rotation.
The Twins have an open spot in their rotation Saturday when they host Cleveland, with Tommy Milone on the disabled list and Tyler Duffey back in Triple-A. Trevor May, bumped to the bullpen a month ago, would be the easy choice, but GM Terry Ryan refused to confirm that.
Rangers: Darvish, five months removed from Tommy John surgery, will be examined this week by a team physician and could begin a light throwing program, GM Jon Daniels said. ... Holland, who has been hit hard over three starts on a rehab assignment for the shoulder injury he sustained in his first inning of the season, will need at least another turn or two, Daniels said.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton was sent back to Triple-A Rochester after the expiration of his rehab assignment for a sprained left thumb, but Ryan said Buxton could be called up before the rosters expand in September. "We've got to get him settled in and let him go compete," Ryan said.
RHP Nick Martinez (7-6, 3.91 ERA) starts Wednesday for the Rangers opposite Twins RHP Mike Pelfrey (5-7, 4.06).