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Baker delivers as Twins rout Rangers 8-1

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - The Minnesota offense struck early and often to support red-hot starting pitcher Scott Baker as the Twins crushed the Texas Rangers 8-1 at Target Field Saturday.

Minnesota scored five runs in the first inning, sending 10 batters to the plate, and extended the lead to 6-0 with one out in the second inning to knock Rangers starter Colby Lewis out of the game.

"We ambushed 'em," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I think as you saw there, it was kind of an ambush there early, running around and flipping the ball into the right spots. It was a nice big inning for us and Bake (Baker) did the rest. He finished the ballgame for us out there, and we needed that."

The rough start compounded Lewis's woes after he allowed nine runs in just over three innings against Detroit earlier in the week.

"I don't think I made too many bad pitches," Lewis said. "They came out swinging the bats hot. I walked two guys ... just another one of those days."

Minnesota added runs in the fourth and seventh innings to stretch the lead to 8-0.

"There are a handful of games in a season where you feel really good mechanically, have a really good game plan and you execute your pitches," Baker said.

"Rene (Rivera) did an excellent job back there staying with me. And the offense scoring five runs in the first inning didn't hurt. So overall it was a good game and a good performance, so I'm pretty happy with it."

Adrian Beltre ended Baker's no-hit game when he doubled to lead off the fifth inning, but the Twins starter rebounded with 11 consecutive outs before Mike Napoli hit a two-out single in the eighth inning.

With the game well out of reach, Napoli stole second base uncontested and scored on a single by David Murphy.

Baker completed the game allowing just five hits, no walks and striking out seven.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario. Editing by Ian Ransom/Rex Gowar)