Twins, Rangers end set in Arlington

Opposing pitchers finally figured out how to hold down Texas slugger Adrian Beltre, holding him hitless in four at-bats on Saturday, but still the Rangers had their way with the Minnesota Twins with a 9-3 victory in Arlington.

On Sunday, the visitors make an attempt to slow down the rest of the Rangers bats as the clubs close out a four-game set.

Texas, which has won four straight and seven of the last eight contests, has outscored Minnesota by a combined 27-9 during this series and because of that the Rangers are now six games ahead of Oakland for first place in the American League West.

The club with the second-best run differential (plus-114) in all of baseball, Texas watched Beltre come up empty at the plate on Saturday after the slugger not only hit for the cycle on Friday, but also crushed three home runs in a single game versus Baltimore just two days earlier. Instead it was Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland who carried the load yesterday as they combined for seven RBI, each hitting a home run in the rout.

"It's tough as an offense to have every single guy rolling at the same time and right now that's happening," says Kinsler. "We are all having quality at- bats, one after another. Whether you're making an out or not, it seems like we're seeing a lot of pitches, making a pitcher work one through nine. It's tough on the opposing team when you're able to do that."

Ryan Dempster had another strong outing for his new team, allowing just two runs on eight hits and a couple of walks, striking out seven over six innings of work.

"It seems like these guys are putting up five runs in an inning almost every day," Dempster said of his teammates. "It's pretty fun. I know they've always done a pretty good job offensively, but you still have to execute your game plan, whether you get one run or 10 runs. You still have to go out and execute pitches."

The Twins, losers of five straight and 10 of the last 11 outings, are in the deepest hole of any team in the AL right now, trailing in the Central Division by a whopping 19 1/2 games after they fell to 27-38 on the road.

Minnesota starting pitcher Brian Duensing was knocked around for nine runs on 10 hits in just 2 1/3 innings. The bullpen banded together after that as four hurlers held the Rangers scoreless the rest of the way, but by then it was already too late.

Offensively, the Twins scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, one of those coming on Justin Morneau's 17th home run of the season. Morneau finished with four hits overall, matching his production from the six previous games combined.

Hoping to snap what has become a personal three-game slide, Scott Feldman steps to the mound for the Twins this afternoon in Arlington. Prior to this current run of bad luck the right-hander had rattled off six wins in as many decisions, but that was only after he began the campaign on a six-game skid.

Most recently Feldman squared off against Baltimore on Tuesday, giving up four earned runs on seven hits while striking out four over five innings in what became a 5-3 setback for the club.

The Hawaii native, selected in the 30th round of the 2003 draft by the Rangers, has a career mark of 2-1 with a 5.05 ERA versus Minnesota.

As for the Twins, they've penciled in Cole De Vries as their starter for the day to counter Feldman. A native of Minnesota who was a Golden Gopher at one point, De Vries has mirrored Feldman with three setbacks in as many appearances. But the right-hander has actually had far more trouble than his counterpart having not won a game since the end of June, a span of 10 games.

On Tuesday De Vries had a decent outing against Oakland on the road, permitting just two runs on six hits and three walks over the course of 5 2/3 innings. De Vries struck out three in the contest, but for the second straight game he failed to get much support from his own team on offense as the Twins suffered a 4-1 loss.

Against Texas earlier in the season De Vries made it through seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out five, but again he failed to earn a decision in his one and only career game versus the Rangers.

The top run-producing team in the American League with 654 through 126 contests, the Rangers are shooting for their first four-game sweep of Minnesota since 1987.