ARLINGTON (AP) — Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington decided it was time to shake up his lineup a bit.
With a few switches in the batting order, and an impressive performance by young starter Nick Tepesch, the Rangers ended their longest losing streak in nearly nine years.
Adrian Beltre homered and Shin-Soo Choo had three hits in his return to the leadoff spot while Tepesch allowed only three singles over 7 1-3 scoreless innings, and the Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 5-4 on Friday night.
“He was outstanding. We needed a well-pitched game and he gave it to us,” said Washington, who liked his lineup. “We’ll run the same one out there tomorrow and see what happens.”
The Rangers went into the opener of the weekend series mired in its first eight-game losing streak since August 2005.
“It’s nice to end any negative streak,” said Beltre, who added a sacrifice fly in the eighth that proved to be the margin of victory. “It’s one of those things, you don’t want to throw any at-bat away.”
Minnesota has lost its last nine road games, including a three-game sweep at the Los Angeles Angels before getting to Texas.
The Twins came up short after scoring four runs in the ninth off Texas closer Joakim Soria, making only his second appearance since June 14.
Choo led off for the first time in 18 games while Carlos Pena, in only his fourth game back with the Rangers, took over the No. 3 spot where Choo had hit .149 (10 for 67) since June 7.
And Washington’s change paid off immediately when Choo had a leadoff single in the first and scored on Beltre’s ninth homer, which just cleared the fence and landed in the Rangers bullpen in right-center field.
“I said earlier that doesn’t make a difference. I knew this would happen after the game and I was sure people would ask me about it, but it’s not … I don’t think anything changed as far as approach,” Choo said about leading off, though he acknowledged that, “I’m a little more comfortable there, I’ve done it for the last two years.”
Tepesch (3-3) struck out five, walked two and hit two batters, while matching his longest major league start. He has won all three of his career starts against the Twins, allowing only three earned runs in 20 2-3 innings.
“Just able to command all four of my pitches, and just commanding them in the zone and out of the zone,” Tepesch said.
Kevin Correia (4-9) allowed four runs and six hits over six innings. The right-hander, who struck out three and walked two, had given up only two earned runs over 18 innings his previous three starts.
Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts each got an out in the eighth after Tepesch gave up a one-out hit to Minnesota leadoff hitter Brian Dozer.
Jorge Polanco’s two-run triple in the ninth for his first major league hit that made it 5-4. Soria, who had given up just one earned over 20 2-3 innings his previous 22 games, then got a strikeout and grounder to end the game.
Luis Sardinas and Choo had RBI doubles in the fifth, both on balls that left fielder Josh Willingham tried to catch.
Sardinas hit a sinking liner down the left-field line that rolled into the corner after Willingham made a diving attempt to catch it. Choo hit a flyball that glanced off Willingham’s glove when he ran into the 14-foot fence.
“Diving full out down the line, diving up against the wall in left field,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “What can’t you like about that? He’s trying to make a play.”
NOTES: Rangers ace Yu Darvish (7-4, 2.62 ERA) is scheduled to start Saturday. He lost his last two starts, allowing 12 runs (eight earned) over 11 innings. … Phil Hughes (8-3) pitches the middle game for the Twins. … 1B/OF Brad Snyder declined an outright assignment to Triple-A Round Rock and took free agency Friday, three days after the Rangers designated him for assignment.
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