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Updated: July 26th, 2011 10:57pm
Twins Daily: Pinch-hit doubles by Thome, Mauer key ninth-inning rally

Twins Daily: Pinch-hit doubles by Thome, Mauer key ninth-inning rally

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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Courtesy of two key pinch-hit doubles by Jim Thome and Joe Mauer, the Minnesota Twins came from behind to beat the Texas Rangers 9-8 on Tuesday night.

The skinny

Thome and Mauer weren't in the starting lineup on Tuesday night, but they wound up providing the key hits in a two-run rally in the top of the ninth inning. Thome's one-out double set the table for Tsuyoshi Nishioka to drive in the game-tying run, and Mauer's double put the Twins in front.

One night after getting bludgeoned 20-6, the Twins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning, which turned out to be the equivalent of bringing brass knuckles to a gun fight, as the Rangers came storming back to score seven unanswered runs.

Texas began the barrage in the bottom of the second inning with a single by Michael Young and doubles by Nelson Cruz and Mitch Moreland, cutting the Twins' lead to 3-2.

Two innings later, the first five Rangers hitters reached base against Pavano to start the fourth inning -- a walk by Young, a double by Cruz, a single by Moreland, a two-run homer by Yorvit Torrealba, and a single by Chris Davis, who later scored on a single by Elvis Andrus that gave Texas a 7-3 lead.

The Twins battled back with a three-run fifth inning, courtesy of a two-RBI single by Danny Valencia and a two-out, RBI infield single by Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Carl Pavano was touched up for eight earned runs on nine hits and two walks in five innings, but Alex Burnett, Matt Capps and Glen Perkins combined for three scoreless innings to bridge the gap for Joe Nathan, who struck out Moreland and David Murphy with runners on first and second to end the game.

Turning point

Trailing 8-7 entering the ninth inning, the Twins received a jolt when Delmon Young reached base with a one-out, line-drive single up the middle, setting the table for pinch-hitter Thome, who drove a 96-mph Neftali Feliz fastball off the left-field wall.

The double put runners in scoring position for the struggling Nishioka, who came into the game hitting just .221/.279/.250. Nishioka saw seven upper-90s fastballs, fouling three off before finally pounding a chopper up the middle to a drawn-in infield. Shortstop Elvis Andrus fielded, but had no play on Young, who scored standing up from third base to tie the game.

With Nishioka reaching safely as well, pinch-hitter Mauer came up with runners on first and third and drove a double to the gap in left center, plating pinch-runner Jason Repko to put the Twins up 9-8.

Numbers game

7-for-12: Valencia with the bases loaded this season (.583) after his two-RBI single in the fifth. Valencia is now 11-for-19 (.579) in his career with the bases loaded.

7-for-36: Mauer (.194)  in his career as a pinch-hitter.

0: Blown saves, in five chances, for Nathan since coming off the disabled list one month ago.

254: Saves for Nathan in a Twins uniform, which ties Rick Aguilera for most saves in franchise history.

Health report

• OF Denard Span (concussion) had a scheduled day off for Triple-A Rochester Tuesday, but he is expected to be back in the lineup on Wednesday.

• 1B Justin Morneau (neck surgery, wrist) has been suffering from migraines, according to MLB.com, but doctors do not believe the headaches are related to his concussion or neck surgery.

On deck

With the trade deadline looming, the Twins look to continue their long climb in the American League Central on Wednesday (7:05 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when left-hander Brian Duensing (7-8, 4.53) takes on right-hander Colby Lewis (10-7, 3.93).

Duensing got rocked in his start against Detroit last week, allowing seven earned runs on nine hits in only 4 2/3 innings, prompting him to apologize to fans via Twitter after the game. Prior to that outing, Duensing had allowed only five earned runs in 22 1/3 innings (2.01 ERA) over three starts, striking out 11 and walking five.

Lewis has allowed a league-high 24 home runs this season, but overall he has pitched around them pretty well, striking out 109 while walking only 37 in 128 1/3 innings. In his only outing against the Twins this season, Lewis was bounced after recording only four outs, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and two walks on June 11 at Target Field.

Coming up

• Thursday: @ Texas, 7:05 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (8-5, 2.88) vs. LHP Matt Harrison (8-7, 3.05)
• 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)

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