Twins avoid sweep with win over Rangers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Minnesota Twins mauled Texas Rangers starter Cliff Lee to avoid a series sweep with a 6-4 victory on Thursday.

Lee was chased after conceding seven hits and five runs over five innings as the AL Central-leading Twins (73-55) built a 6-0 lead going into the seventh and withstood a late fightback.

Delmon Young hit a three-run homer for Minnesota in the second inning, and veteran designated hitter Jim Thome followed up with a solo shot in the sixth.

Lefthander Lee continues to struggle for his new team and is now 2-5 in 10 starts since joining Texas from Seattle just before last month's All-Star Game.

"I haven't been locating pitches as well as I expect myself to and they haven't missed them," Lee told reporters.

"It's just been a handful of pitches and they happened to capitalize on them. I've got to do a better job of staying out of the heart of the plate. That's really it."

Vladimir Guerrero hit his second consecutive homer for the Rangers, who rallied to 6-4 before the Twins' Matt Capps closed out the game.

Francisco Loriano, starting his first game in eight days for the Twins, allowed five hits and two runs over seven innings.

Minnesota's Orlando Hudson was delighted with the team's fast start and dominance of Lee.

"We just came out early and scored some runs early on and stayed on top," Hudson said. "Hopefully we'll never, ever, ever see him again."

Despite the defeat, the Rangers (72-55) maintained a healthy 8 �� game lead in the AL East division. (Editing by John O'Brien)