MINNEAPOLIS – Glen Perkins couldn't put his pitches where he wanted to.
Josh Hamilton made him and the Minnesota Twins pay for it.
Hamilton's two-run homer in the eighth capped a three-run inning for Texas and set up Joe Nathan for the save against his former team in a 4-3 victory on Sunday over the Twins, giving the Rangers their first series sweep in Minnesota since 1999.
"We had 'em where we wanted 'em, and I didn't get it done," said Perkins, who faced eight batters over the last two games and gave up two doubles, one triple, one homer and one walk.
Perkins walked Ian Kinsler to start the eighth and Elvis Andrus followed with a triple to bring the Rangers within one. Then Hamilton hit the first pitch he saw from Perkins (0-1) an estimated 449 feet into the upper deck above right field, suddenly rendering fine performances by Clete Thomas and Liam Hendriks for the Twins to the background.
Hamilton, who leads the American League with 16 hits, is 6 for 12 in his career with two homers and five RBIs against Perkins. The Rangers won their fourth in a row and raised their AL-best record to 8-2. The Twins have the worst mark in the league at 2-7.
Robbie Ross (2-0) struck out three in relief of Neftali Feliz over two scoreless innings for his second win in as many days. Then Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in four tries with his new team.
"You've got to score runs when you can. It's been frustrating. Guys are hitting the ball hard and at people and things like that. But you've just got to keep plugging away," said Joe Mauer, who grounded into one of Minnesota's major league-leading 13 double plays in the eighth inning after Denard Span singled and Jamey Carroll popped up his sacrifice bunt attempt.
Justin Morneau also hit a double-play grounder with two on and one out.
"Stay with him. He'll be fine. He's missed a lot of baseball so he's going to have some hot and cold spells," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's taking his hacks. Sometimes he gets a little anxious, but he's working. It's a work in progress."
Mauer and Morneau were a combined 3 for 22 in this series, with four walks, six strikeouts, three double-play groundouts and 14 runners left on base.
Thomas, a waiver claim the day after being let go by Detroit, sent a fly ball to the warning track with his first swing in the third inning. He experienced immediately the challenge for left-handers to hit home runs at Target Field.
"It could've easily gone out in most other places," Thomas said.
But with two outs and a runner on second base in the bottom of the fifth, Thomas clobbered another changeup from Feliz to the same spot in right-center to give the Twins a 2-1 lead. This one went further, and Thomas jogged around the diamond to the delight of the crowd of 32,093, the majority of which had probably never heard of him until the lineup was announced.
That was Thomas' first major league home run since Aug. 3, 2009. He spent the last two years fighting injuries and playing for Triple-A Toledo. He appeared in three games for the Tigers this season but didn't even make it to the batter's box.
In the top of the sixth, Young doubled down the right-field line with two outs and Adrian Beltre on first. Thomas put his relay right on target, and second baseman Alexi Casilla threw a strike, too, to get Beltre at the plate.
Hendriks, who hadn't pitched yet because of food poisoning in Baltimore, gave up seven hits without a walk in six innings in his first start of the season. Mike Napoli's homer in the fifth was the only run allowed by the 23-year-old Australian right-hander. Minnesota's minor league pitcher of the year in 2011, Hendriks struck out four.
With Scott Baker out for the season, the spot in the rotation is Hendriks' to lose.
"It hasn't changed my mindset. I'm going to go out there and do what I need to do and try to keep the team in contention every game," he said.
Notes: The Twins send RHP Carl Pavano (0-1, 5.93 ERA) to the mound against his former team Monday in New York. RHP Freddy Garcia (0-0, 5.79 ERA) pitches for the Yankees. ... The Twins drafted Thomas out of high school in 2002, but he went to Auburn instead. ... Josh Willingham has a hit in every game for the Twins, their first player to do that since Jacque Jones in 2002. ... Span is 10 for 18 in his last four games. He tripled and scored in the sixth.