Jim Thome's pair of home runs powers Twins past Rangers 12-4, puts him in 9th place all-time

Jim Thome homered twice for Minnesota, moving past Mark McGwire for ninth place on baseball's all-time list and powering the Twins over the Texas Rangers 12-4 on Saturday.

Thome went deep for the 583rd time in his career leading off the third inning, a shot to the second deck above right field estimated at 449 feet. Then with two on and two outs in the fourth, Thome's full-count drive into the bullpen behind left-center made it 9-0 and gave him No. 584.

Thome also drew a couple of walks, giving him 1,668 lifetime freebees. That moved him into ninth in that career category, too, passing Frank Thomas.

After six straight one-run games, the Twins let loose against slumping starter Colby Lewis (9-12) and the AL West-leading Rangers. Minnesota gave Carl Pavano (16-10) plenty of support and kept its AL Central lead over Chicago at four games for the moment. Earlier in the afternoon, the second-place White Sox beat Boston in the opener of their doubleheader.

In just 237 at-bats in his first season with the Twins, Thome has 20 homers. He took over sole posession of the team lead with his first long ball of the day, passing Jason Kubel and the disabled Justin Morneau.

Matt Tolbert hit two triples for a career-high five RBIs, and J.J. Hardy drove in two runs on three hits. After a two-run double by Hardy and a bases-loaded triple by Tolbert gave the Twins a 5-0 lead, Pavano had all he needed.

With an 11-0 pounding by the White Sox on Aug. 19 and low run support in his past two starts, Pavano was on a three-game losing streak. He snapped that with eight strong innings, allowing an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the fifth and a two-run double by Julio Borbon in the sixth.

Lewis fell to 0-7 in his last nine starts, a skid that first started because of a lack of runs behind him but has been extended by some poor performances. In his last four turns, Lewis has lasted only 22 1-3 innings with 32 hits and 23 runs allowed. He left after Thome's second homer and was charged with nine runs, eight hits and two walks.

The Twins have won all five games against the Rangers at Target Field.

Batting leader Josh Hamilton of Texas returned to center field for the first time since Sunday, though he was removed in the fifth with the Twins leading big. Hamilton made a running catch, hitting hard against the wall on Delmon Young's drive in the third, but he stayed in the game after being checked on by his manager and trainer.

Hamilton was taken out of Friday's game because of stiffness in his lower back, but manager Ron Washington said he didn't hesitate to put him in the lineup. "Came in bouncing around like a spring chicken," Washington said before the game.

NOTES: Tolbert played 3B for Danny Valencia, who sat out after leaving Friday's game because of tightness in his right hamstring. ... Washington will join some of his former teammates in an "legends game" on Sunday afternoon as part of the 50th anniversary festivities put on by the Twins this weekend. One of them, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, will not be playing. "I've missed enough balls. I've made enough outs. That's why I became a coach and a manager," Gardenhire said. ... RF Jeff Francoeur made his first start for the Rangers since coming in a trade Tuesday with the New York Mets. He went 1 for 4. ... Ian Kinsler homered in the ninth off Twins RH Rob Delaney's fourth pitch in the majors.