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Updated: July 27th, 2011 10:25pm
Twins Daily: Duensing bounces back with strong outing to beat Rangers

Twins Daily: Duensing bounces back with strong outing to beat Rangers

by Phil Mackey
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A strong performance by Brian Duensing combined with home runs by Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer keyed a 7-2 Minnesota Twins win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.

The skinny

Five days after apologizing to fans via Twitter following an abysmal start against the Detroit Tigers, Duensing responded with one of his best efforts of the season -- 6 2/3 innings, one run, seven hits, a walk and six strikeouts against one of the best offenses in baseball.

The Twins offense struck early with solo home runs by Joe Mauer in the first inning and Michael Cuddyer in the fourth inning off Rangers starter Colby Lewis, who came into the night having allowed a league-leading 24 long balls.

Jason Kubel's bases-loaded, three-run double in the top of the ninth inning turned a 4-1 lead into a comfortable 7-1 gap.

Turning point

It seems as if no lead is safe against the Rangers these days, especially after the Twins quickly gave away a 3-0 advantage early in Tuesday night's ballgame.

But with Duensing pitching well through the first four innings, back-to-back two-out, RBI singles by Mauer and Cuddyer in the top of the fifth stretched the lead from 2-1 to 4-1, giving the left-hander some breathing room.

Alexi Casilla's two-out double down the right-field line started the rally.

Numbers game

1: Home runs for Mauer this season.

15: Home runs for Cuddyer.

5-2: The Twins' record against the Rangers this season.

Health report

• 2B Alexi Casilla was taken out of the game in the top of the ninth inning after coming up lame while trotting into second base with a double. Manager Ron Gardenhire said via FSN North after the game that Casilla would undergo an MRI on Thursday to determine whether the injury was a hamstring strain or a cramp.

• OF Denard Span (concussion) played nine innings for Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday night for the first time since landing on the disabled list in early June. Span went 2-for-5 with a double.

• 1B Justin Morneau (neck surgery, wrist) was sidelined from working out again Thursday due to a migraine, according to Doctors have told Morneau that the migraines are not related to his 2010 concussion or the recent neck surgery.

• RHP Kyle Gibson missed his scheduled start for Rochester on Wednesday night due to soreness in the flexor muscle near his right elbow. Gibson and the Twins downplayed the soreness, but Gibson's poor performance as of late, coupled with the elbow issue, is cause for concern.

On deck

It seemed unlikely after a 20-6 beat-down on Monday night, but the Twins will attempt to take three out of four from the Rangers on Thursday (7:05 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when right-hander Scott Baker (8-5, 2.88) battles left-hander Matt Harrison (8-7, 3.05).

In his first start back from the disabled list on Saturday, Baker pitched five scoreless innings, striking out five while allowing only four baserunners. Baker hasn't allowed an earned run in his last three starts, albeit two of those outings lasted only five innings. Since June 5, Baker owns a 1.50 ERA with 43 strikeouts and only eight walks in 48 innings. In his lone start against the Rangers, Baker pitched a complete game, allowing only one run on five hits while striking out seven on June 11.

Harrison has emerged as one of the more reliable starters in the American League this season, as evidenced by the right-hander giving up three earned runs or fewer in 15 of his 19 starts. Harrison pitched six innings against the Twins on June 12, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out three.

Coming up

• Friday: @ Oakland, 9:05 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (6-8, 4.82) vs. Gio Gonzalez (9-7, 2.67)
• Saturday: @ Oakland, 8:05 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (7-7, 4.21) vs. RHP Guillermo Moscoso (3-5, 3.47)
• Sunday: @ Oakland, 3:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (6-7, 4.60) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (3-5, 3.52)

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd