Alex Kirilloff slugs 3-run homer in the 8th, leads Twins past Rangers 5-3 for 4th straight victory

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Alex Kirilloff hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead the Minnesota Twins to a 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.

Kirilloff, who also hit a go-ahead home run in the Twins’ series-opening victory over the World Series champions on Friday night, drove a 1-0 pitch from David Robertson (2-2) into the bullpen in left-center, helping Minnesota win its fourth straight game.

After a 7-for-59 skid dropped his batting average to .202, Kirilloff has rallied the past eight days, going 5 for 16 with three home runs.

“Knowing how much he’s been working and certainly been showing signs of coming out of it, for him to deliver the big one there in the eighth was huge, off a really good pitcher,” Twins bench coach Jace Tingler said.

It was just the second multi-hit game of the season for Kirilloff, who also singled and scored leading off the seventh inning.

“Sticking with the process has been the biggest thing — showing up every day ready to work,” Kirilloff said of his recent struggles. “Let it come naturally, but at the same time, try to figure out what the adjustment is. It’s kind of been a balance.”

Cole Sands (2-0) pitched two perfect innings to earn the victory. Jhoan Duran worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save.

Ezequiel Duran homered and threw a runner out at the plate and starter Michael Lorenzen pitched six strong innings for the Rangers, who have lost six straight and 12 of their last 14 games.

Lorenzen gave up one run on three hits over six innings. It was his seventh consecutive start with at least six innings pitched, tied for the longest such streak in the major leagues this season. However, he is winless in his last six starts.

The game turned when Lorenzen was pulled after warming up for the seventh inning, having suffered a cramp in his lower right leg.

“It’s frustrating. I felt like I ambushed the bullpen, and I hate putting the bullpen in that situation,” said Lorenzen, who lobbied manager Bruce Bochy to stay in the game. His arguments fell on deaf ears.

“He wanted to try, but the risk versus reward there — we’ve lost enough starters,” said Bochy, whose team has six starting pitchers on the injured list. “I don’t want him altering his delivery and then something happens.”

Trailing 3-1, the Twins started a rally with a single and a walk against reliever Jesus Tinoco.

Robertson then came on and walked Edouard Julien to load the bases with one out. Carlos Correa’s sacrifice fly made it 3-2 before left fielder Duran cut down Carlos Santana trying to score on Jose Miranda’s single to temporarily preserve the lead.

The Twins struck first, scoring on a bases-loaded walk in the first inning. The Rangers tied it in the fourth when Corey Seager led off with a single and scored on Adolis García’s one-out double against Twins starter Chris Paddack.

Duran hit his first homer of the season to break the tie in the fifth inning, and Leody Taveras’ RBI double in the sixth extended the Texas lead to 3-1.

But Lorenzen's cramp changed the Rangers' plan for closing out the game. Robertson, who began the day with a 2.28 ERA, had to warm up quickly and enter the game early when Tinoco struggled in relief of Lorenzen.

“We had our guy out there. He’s been so good,” Bochy said of Robertson. “We had to bring him in in the seventh. That didn’t help things out. I didn’t really want to do that, but once we got in a jam there, you want your guy out there. We’re trying to win a ballgame. But it got away from us.”

UP NEXT

Twins RHP Pablo López (4-4, 4.72) will try to bounce back from his worst start of the season, when he gave up seven earned runs in five innings in a 12-3 loss to the Nationals on May 20. The Rangers have not named a starter.

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