NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Minnesota Twins won a tense battle of division leaders by eking out a 2-1 victory over the visiting Texas Rangers in a classic pitchers' duel on Friday.
Minnesota's Kevin Slowey (6-3) and Texas' Colby Lewis (4-3) made life difficult for the hitters in a game that was decided on a double-play grounder off the bat of reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer in the fifth inning.
"Our pitching was fantastic," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters.
The win played out in front of nearly 40,000 fans in the largest crowd yet at the new Target Field, improved the Twins to 28-20 and increased their AL Central lead to 2 games over the Detroit Tigers.
The Rangers (26-22) clung to a half-game edge over the Oakland Athletics, who beat Detroit, in the AL West.
The Twins snapped a 1-1 tie after loading the bases with no one out against unlucky loser Lewis in the decisive fifth frame.
Nick Punto walked to lead off the inning and Denard Span followed with a bunt single. Orlando Hudson singled to left to load the bases, and Punto crossed the plate despite the double-play turned on Mauer's grounder to the second baseman.
The teams managed just seven hits apiece in the game with Slowey hurling 6 2/3 innings before turning the ball over to reliever Mijares to get out of a jam.
After a walk to catcher Max Ramirez loaded the bases in the seventh with two outs, left-hander Mijares got power-hitting Nelson Cruz to ground out to third to end the threat.
The Rangers scored their only run in the fourth despite having a home run call reversed on Ian Kinsler's drive down the left-field line.
After video evidence determined it was a foul ball, Kinsler went back to the plate and doubled to right and scored on a single by Vladimir Guerrero that tied the game 1-1.
Mauer drove in the game's first run with an RBI single in the third inning.
(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario)