MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins gave Ervin Santana an early four-run cushion Thursday afternoon.
It wasn’t enough for the Twins’ struggling starter.
Mitch Moreland drove in four runs on a career-high four hits, including a two-run homer to help the Texas Rangers avoid a sweep at Minnesota and rally for a 6-5 victory.
Elvis Andrus hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth inning against Casey Fien (2-5) after Adrian Beltre and Moreland started the frame with singles.
“It was a winnable game,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said.
Santana squandered a 4-0 lead, thanks to the towering two-run shot by Moreland in the fourth and a two-run, go-ahead double by the first baseman in the fifth. Prince Fielder’s RBI single came right before that.
“There was one inning where everything was up in that inning and that’s where they did the damage,” Santana said.
Opponents have been doing a lot of that lately. In his last four starts, the right-hander has given up 22 earned runs in 20 innings and struck out just seven, going 0-3.
Signed to a four-year, $55 million contract before the season, Santana missed the team’s first 80 games after a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug.
Now, his manager thinks Santana is pressing.
“You can’t make up for lost time, you can only do what you have on that given day,” Molitor said. “Just continue to be yourself, don’t try to be Superman. I think he’s just trying a little bit too hard out there and sometimes it’s getting away from him.”
“Not at all,” he said. “Just keep my mind positive and just go out there and do my job.”
Chi Chi Gonzalez returned to the Rangers’ rotation after some time in Triple-A, with mixed results. He gave up five hits, five runs and five walks in 5 2-3 innings, but he struck out four and settled in after the four-run second.
Miguel Sano, who homered twice and drove in six runs Wednesday, ended that big inning with the bases loaded by popping out to shallow right field.
Trevor Plouffe’s home run and RBI doubles by Chris Herrmann and Shane Robinson got the Twins going that inning. A slick wide slide by Eddie Rosario around catcher Chris Gimenez’s tag while teammate Eduardo Escobar was caught in a rundown gave the Twins another run.
But Minnesota, which pounded out 18 hits in Wednesday’s 11-1 win, had just two hits in the last seven innings.
“That’s how it goes sometimes,” said second baseman Brian Dozier. “You try to look at the bright side of it that you win the series . but we couldn’t get a run across late in the game.”
Keone Kela (6-5) got four outs for the victory after relieving Gonzalez. Shawn Tolleson pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 22 tries.
DON’T RUN ON ROSARIO
With the game tied and no outs in the seventh, Minnesota RF Eddie Rosario threw out Delino DeShields trying to go from first to third on a single by Fielder. “That was a huge play . kept the game in check for us,” Molitor said. Playing left field Wednesday, Rosario threw out Shin-Soo Choo at the plate.
Twins: LHP Tommy Milone’s bullpen session went well, and he’ll come off the DL (strained left elbow) to start Sunday. But RHP Phil Hughes (lower back inflammation) will take his place on the shelf. Hughes had an epidural shot to relieve the discomfort, and GM Terry Ryan said the DL stint should only be the minimum 15 days.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (1-2, 5.81 ERA) will take his sixth turn of the season Friday, when the Rangers start a three-game series at home against Tampa Bay. RHP Nathan Karns (7-5, 3.52 ERA) will take the mound for the Rays.
Twins: RHP Trevor May (8-7, 4.09 ERA) will move back into the rotation Friday against Cleveland, after spending more than a month in the bullpen. He’ll be on a limit of about 50 pitches. RHP Corey Kluber (7-12, 3.46 ERA) will start for the Indians, after throwing a complete-game three-hitter last Sunday in an 8-1 win over the Twins.