Josh Willingham goes deep, Pedro Hernandez solid in Twins win
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Pedro Hernandez pitched five shutout innings for his first major league win, Josh Willingham homered and the Minnesota Twins beat the Texas Rangers 7-2 Saturday to end a three-game slide.
Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing and Jared Burton each work a scoreless inning before Glen Perkins struggled in the ninth, giving up a two-run double to Mitch Moreland.
Derek Holland (1-2) pitched seven innings of five-hit ball for Texas, which lost for just the second time in nine games.
Leading 1-0 in the sixth inning, Willingham gave the Twins some breathing room with a two-out, two-run homer to left-center.
With so many weather postponements reducing the need for a fifth starter, Hernandez (1-0) was making just his second start -- and fourth appearance -- for the Twins. His first start was April 7.
In five innings, he allowed just five hits and struck out three. After getting into a third-inning jam, Hernandez retired eight of the final nine hitters he faced.
A ground-rule double by Ian Kinsler gave the Rangers runners on second and third with one out in the third inning, but Craig Gentry lined out to the shortstop and Adrian Beltre flew out to left field to end the threat.
Instead, Minnesota scored the game's first run in the bottom half as Aaron Hicks -- who reached on an error by Moreland -- scored on Brian Dozier's sacrifice fly.
Hicks' first career extra-base hit, a two-run double, keyed a three-run eighth inning.
Holland was outstanding in his first three starts, lasting at least seven innings and allowing no more than two runs in each. But Monday in Anaheim, he allowed six earned runs on six hits while walking four in 5 2/3 innings. He felt as if he pitched well in that contest, but Los Angeles' hitters forced him into deep counts and took advantage of the free passes.
Other than the homerun to Willingham, Holland scattered seven hits, and allowed four runs -- three earned. He had four 1-2-3 innings, but he also threw two wild pitches.
When Hicks threw out Cruz, it marked the fourth straight game a Twins outfielder has an assist and fifth in seven games. ... Gentry, the Texas center fielder, took a hit away from Eduardo Escobar in the sixth with a diving catch. ... Escobar started at third base for the Twins replacing Trevor Plouffe, who had a pair of defensive miscues Friday night. ... Texas 3B Jeff Baker returned to the lineup after being out since Tuesday with a bruised right knee. ... Right-hander Alexi Ogando (2-1, 3.12) is scheduled to pitch for Texas in Sunday's series finale against Minnesota right-hander Kevin Correia (2-1, 2.86).© The Associated Press