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TEX@MIN: Baker goes the distance in win over Rangers

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's safe to say the Twins were without most of their top hitters against the Rangers on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.

But even with Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome, Denard Span and Tsuyoshi Nishioka out of the lineup, the Twins strung together an early rally and downed the Rangers, 8-1, behind the fourth complete game of right-hander Scott Baker's career.

"We ambushed 'em," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said with a laugh. "I think as you saw there, it was kind of an ambush there early, running around and flipping the ball into the right spots. It was a nice big inning for us and Bake did the rest. He finished the ballgame for us out there, and we needed that."

Baker turned in one of his best outings of the season, going the distance and allowing just five hits and no walks while striking out seven, including Josh Hamilton three times.

He simply commanded the strike zone, as 80 of his season-high 112 pitches went for strikes, and it allowed him to toss his first complete game since Aug. 14, 2009, when he shut out the Indians.

"There are a handful of games in a season where you feel really good mechanically, have a really good game plan and you execute your pitches," Baker said. "Rene [Rivera] did an excellent job back there staying with me. And the offense scoring five runs in the first inning didn't hurt. So overall it was a good game and a good performance, so I'm pretty happy with it."

With a starting lineup that included four players who began the season with Triple-A Rochester -- Ben Revere, Rene Tosoni, Brian Dinkelman and Rivera -- the Twins scored five runs in the first inning and another in the second to knock right-hander Colby Lewis from the game after he recorded just four outs.

Minnesota batted around the order in that first frame, with seven different players reaching base -- including Dinkelman, who picked up his first two Major League RBIs on a one-out single.

"It was exciting," Dinkelman said. "I had a big first inning there, [we] had a couple runs, I came up with a chance to get a few more runs and got a hit and got a couple in. It was exciting to jump out to a good lead."

The Twins scored quickly again in the second, as Alexi Casilla doubled and stole third base before scoring on a single from Delmon Young. Young's hit forced Lewis out of the game in favor of right-hander Dave Bush, after he gave up six runs on seven hits and two walks.

While Lewis struggled against the Twins' depleted lineup, Baker excelled against the high-octane Rangers offense, throwing four perfect innings before surrendering a leadoff double to Adrian Beltre in the fifth.

Revere also had an impressive game, going 2-for-5 at the plate with two runs scored. He singled, stole second and scored on Casilla's third hit of the game in the fourth. Revere also made a spectacular catch in center field in the third inning, diving to rob David Murphy of a hit.

"It was one of those lucky catches," said Revere, who ranked the catch in his personal top 10. "I had my eyes closed until the last second. It was one of those balls that was hit right on the screws. I just dove as far as I can and it went in my glove."

Injured center fielder Denard Span, out with a concussion, watched the catch in the Twins' clubhouse and ran into the dugout after the amazing play.

"I was in the cage bunting, messing around, and I saw the catch on TV," Span said. "So I ran outside and went out there, I knew everybody was looking for me, trying to mess with me and all that. I came out there, and I looked around like, 'What just happened?' I had already saw it, and I kind of reached into my back pocket like I would've caught that standing up."

Young continued his hot hitting as well, bringing home the Twins' eighth run with an RBI double -- his third hit of the game -- off reliever Yoshinori Tateyama in the seventh inning.

Baker nearly had a shutout, but lost it when Mike Napoli singled with two outs in the eighth inning and reached second on defensive indifference before scoring on an RBI single from Murphy.

He also ran into trouble in the ninth when Hamilton singled to put runners at the corners with one out, but he was able to get Beltre to ground into a game-ending double play, giving the Twins their second win over the Rangers in three days.

"They are a Major League team," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "It's not the best team that wins, it's the team that plays the best, and they played better today. They're in the Major Leagues, so they're a Major League team. They showed today what they're capable of doing if you don't do what you're capable of doing. Those guys play hard. That's the only way Ronny will have it."

The Twins have won eight of 10 and go for their third straight series victory Sunday with Francisco Liriano on the mound.

"We're playing better baseball overall," Baker said. "We're playing the type of baseball we know we're capable of playing. So we'll see where it takes us." Comments