MINNEAPOLIS -- After being unable to score more than two runs in five straight games -- including four straight losses -- the Twins were due for some good luck against the Rangers on Tuesday night.
They received some good fortune before the game when Texas ace Yu Darvish was scratched with neck stiffness, but they didn't fully take advantage until a wild ninth inning against closer Joakim Soria.
The Twins shocked the Rangers and Soria, scoring twice while down to their last out, capped by a walk-off error from Soria in a 4-3 win at Target Field.
Rookie Danny Santana brought home the game-winning run by reaching on an error from Soria, who bobbled a weakly-hit grounder from Santana with the bases loaded and two outs. The error scored Eduardo Nunez, who tied the game with a two-out RBI single to bring home Oswaldo Arcia after Arcia doubled off the right-field wall.
"Fortunately for us, the breaks went our way at the end," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had some good at-bats and a big hit from Nunez to tie it up. And then whatever you want to call that last thing -- but (Santana) was flying and ran pretty much all the way to the wall. But we needed that desperately."
Nunez was the key to the inning with his game-tying single, and he advanced to second on the throw home from Alex Rios to keep the pressure on against Soria. Kurt Suzuki then hit into what appeared to be an inning-ending grounder to Adrian Beltre, but Beltre tried to tag out Nunez, who was able to go around him to reach third. The Rangers then opted to intentionally walk Eduardo Escobar to load the bases to get to Santana, who was able to reach on the game-winning error.
"I wasn't expecting that he was going to attack me," Nunez said about the play at third. "I was looking to home plate because I expected him to throw the ball to first base. So I had the angle already."
Beltre, however, disagreed, arguing with third-base umpire Mike DiMuro that Nunez was out of the baseline on the play.
"Somehow there is a new rule," Beltre said. "You go out to left field and you come back to third base and it's good."
The rally came after Phil Hughes turned in his seventh straight quality start, giving up three runs on eight hits over seven innings of a no-decision. The right-hander also didn't walk a batter for his sixth straight outing, stretching his total to 175 batters without issuing a walk. He last walked a batter on April 20, which was also the last time he gave up more than two earned runs until Tuesday.
"It's just an amazing accomplishment, especially at this level," Gardenhire said. "He just keeps attacking the strike zone."
Hughes gave up two runs in the second after Rios and Chris Gimenez opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Leonys Martin bunted over both runners before Donnie Murphy launched a deep drive to center that appeared to be a no-doubt homer. But Aaron Hicks made a leaping grab at the wall to rob Murphy of a three-run blast. Rios still scored on the play, as he tagged up from third before Gimenez scored on a two-out RBI double from Rougned Odor.
"I didn't have good stuff at all, especially early," Hughes said. "I was really fighting myself command-wise and trying to overthrow a little bit. I benefited from some great defense, most notably the play Hicks made in center. That was tremendous to keep us in the game at that point."
Rangers right-hander Scott Baker, who pitched for the Twins from 2005-11, was solid in place of Darvish. Baker, who missed the 2012 season and most of the '13 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery, went six innings, surrendering two runs on just three hits and no walks with four strikeouts.
"It's not always easy when you walk into a clubhouse and the first thing you hear is you might be starting," Baker said. "But you embrace the opportunity and go out and do the best you can. For the most part, that was the case."
The Twins scored early against Baker, with a run coming in the second on a solo blast from Arcia. It was Arcia's first homer of the season. They scored again in the third after back-to-back doubles from Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer.
The Rangers went ahead in the sixth with the help of a misplay from Escobar at shortstop and left fielder Chris Parmelee, as they let a routine pop fly drop in for a leadoff single for Mitch Moreland. Beltre followed with a single before Rios grounded into a double play that moved Moreland to third. Moreland came around to score on a two-out bloop single from Gimenez.
Texas had a chance to add to its lead in the ninth after Rios tripled off closer Glen Perkins to lead off the frame. But he was stranded there, as Perkins was able to get two ground balls to shortstop with the infield in before getting Murphy to fly out to center. It proved to be important, considering Minnesota's rally in the bottom of the inning, and gave Perkins his second win of the season.
"It turned out to be huge," Gardenhire said. "Perk made big pitches with the infield in. He just reared back and let it fly. And there you have it. That was it. That was the ballgame there."