MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Texas Rangers are still winless at Minnesota's Target Field.
On this night, they argued, they were at an even greater disadvantage.
Alexi Casilla laced a single to left field to drive in the winning run with two outs in the ninth and lift the Twins to a 5-4 victory over the Rangers on a windy, chilly Thursday.
Jim Hoey (1-2) finished the ninth for the win. Luke Hughes led off the ninth with a double down the left-field line off Mark Lowe (1-0) that a fan picked up before the Rangers could play it. They complained, for the second time in the game, to no avail.
Third baseman Adrian Beltre said he didn't believe umpire Doug Eddings saw the ball.
``We had to play against a team that's pretty good right now - and the umpire,' Beltre said.
Earlier, starter Derek Holland, who matched his career high with 10 strikeouts over 7 1-3 innings, gave up a three-run, two-out home run to Michael Cuddyer in the fifth inning to fall behind 4-1. Holland might've avoided facing Cuddyer in the fifth, had second base umpire Paul Nauert not missed the tag shortstop Elvis Andrus made on Rene Rivera trying to retreat on a bouncer hit right at him three batters before Cuddyer came up and hit one to the back of the bullpen measured at 443 feet.
Rivera was retired on the next play at third base when Beltre grabbed Ben Revere's bunt and made a snap, off-balance throw to get the lead runner, but it's impossible to determine how that inning would've developed had Rivera been out the first time. Rangers manager Ron Washington argued with Nauert for a while.
``The human element is part of the game. That's the way we all like it,' second baseman Michael Young said. ``We still had some opportunities out there to push some runs across, and we didn't get it done. At the end of the day, as a player, you've got to put the responsibility on yourself.'
Josh Hamilton (an estimated 441 feet) and Nelson Cruz (450 feet) hit huge home runs against Twins starter Nick Blackburn, and Cruz's shot tied the game with one out in the eighth.
``That might've been the longest home run I've ever seen hit,' Young said. ``Strong man. Strong man. We're lucky. We get to see that a lot.'
Blackburn's ERA remains the best on Minnesota's starting staff, 3.47, and he hasn't taken a loss since April 28. Blackburn struck out six while surrendering 10 hits and one walk in those 7 1-3 innings. Only two of the four runs against him were earned, though they were partially his fault, thanks to the failed throw on Hamilton's dribbler back to the mound leading off the sixth.
He took second and later scored on Beltre's single to cut the lead to two. The next batter, Cruz hit a scorching one-hopper to third baseman Danny Valencia, who didn't put his torso in front of it and let it skip past him for a crucial error that allowed Beltre to race to third. Then Mitch Moreland made it 4-3 on a sacrifice fly to the short-armed Revere in center field.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was asked before the game whether the Rangers, fresh from the franchise's first World Series appearance, are the best team in the American League. He didn't hesitate to agree.
Lately, the Rangers have been playing the part, climbing from the .500 mark on May 21 with 12 wins in a 17-game stretch prior to this series. But they left 10 men on base in this game and let the Twins win for the first time in 26 tries this season when being out-hit by their opponent.
``We had some great opportunities, and we had people in the spots with those opportunities that we wanted up there,' manager Ron Washington said. ``We just didn't get it done.'
With Tommy Hunter and Brandon Webb working their way back from injuries and Alexi Ogando at 7-0 in 12 starts, Holland could be squeezed out this summer. But coming off a five-hit shutout last week, he's pitching as if he plans to stay.
``Besides the outcome, I feel really good about this start,' Holland said, adding: ``Just a couple pitches got away from me.'
Notes: Washington said 2B Ian Kinsler, out on paternity leave following the birth of his son, would return to the team for Saturday's game. ... The Rangers are in a stretch with 17 out of 20 games on the road. ... The Rangers were hooting and hollering in the clubhouse afterward, cheering the Dallas Mavericks on to victory in Game 5 of the NBA finals against the Miami Heat. ... The Rangers have lost five straight games to the Twins and are 0-7 at Target Field since it opened last year.
The Associated Press News Service
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