MINNEAPOLIS -- After losing four of five games, the Minnesota Twins were just looking for a little bit of luck.
Shannon Stewart's three-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning barely stayed fair, breaking a tie and lifting Brad Radke and Minnesota to a 5-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Sunday.
Stewart, who tied his career best by driving in four runs, hit his fourth homer at an opportune time for the Twins, who struggled to score in the series and avoided their first three-game sweep of the season.
Michael Cuddyer and Juan Castro each hit singles before Stewart's big hit, which landed in the middle of the foul pole in left field.
"I was praying it would -- I hit it good enough," Stewart said. "We're playing good ball, but we've had some bad breaks the last two series."
Kevin Mench homered for the Rangers, whose five-game road winning streak ended with more struggles by their bullpen. Ron Mahay (0-2) surrendered Stewart's homer.
"He made a pitch, but it just caught a little too much of the plate," said Texas bench coach Don Wakamatsu, who filled in as manager while boss Buck Showalter attended his daughter's high school graduation in Florida.
Minnesota's relief was far more effective. Juan Rincon, making his second appearance since a 10-day ban for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, struck out the side in a perfect eighth. Joe Nathan, who gave up an earned run for the first time all season on Friday night, struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 12 tries.
They got their chances because of Radke (4-3), who won his third straight decision after yielding seven hits and two runs in seven innings while striking out two.
Radke, the major-league leader in fewest walks per nine innings, issued just his second free pass of the season in 63 innings -- and it cost him. Mark Teixeira led off the sixth with a walk and came around to score the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Richard Hidalgo.
The throw by Jacque Jones, who also struck out three times on the day his bobblehead doll was handed out to fans, sailed over catcher Joe Mauer's head.
But that was all the Rangers would get, even on an afternoon when Radke said his command wasn't as good as it normally is.
"He throws strikes, he puts the ball on the corners, he elevates his pitches when he needs to, he keeps the ball down when he needs to," Teixeira said. "He's just a good pitcher."
Chris Young, who made seven starts for the Rangers last season but officially remains a rookie, saw his scoreless innings streak end at 14 in the first on Justin Morneau's sacrifice fly. Young, who is 6-foot-10, loaded the bases with nobody out but got Lew Ford to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Stewart hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth, but Young escaped another bases-loaded jam by getting Ford to fly out to left. Cuddyer, who had three hits in his first three at-bats, hustled home to make it 2-1 after first baseman Teixeira made an over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory of Stewart's ball. Teixeira whirled around and made a strong throw home, but it was slightly up the third-base line.
"After the first inning I felt good," Young said. "I got into a better rhythm, and my fastball had good life to it."
Young needed 96 pitches to get through those five innings, but he often fooled the Twins.
"At times, it kind of looked like we were closing our eyes and swinging," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's what that big guy does ... he's very deceptive."
Nick Punto has assumed the starting role for Minnesota at second base, and Juan Castro got his second straight start for the first time this season -- filling in again at shortstop for struggling rookie Jason Bartlett. This young, remade infield has created a need for patience on the Twins' part this year, but it's beginning to come around. Punto and third baseman Cuddyer each had three hits.
"They're doing a good job," Radke said.
|Players of the Game|
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|David Dellucci, DH||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.270|
|Michael Young, SS||2||0||1||0||0||0||1||.256|
|Mark DeRosa, PR-SS||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.083|
|Mark Teixeira, 1B||3||1||0||0||1||1||2||.259|
|Hank Blalock, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.273|
|Alfonso Soriano, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||2||1||.293|
|Richard Hidalgo, RF||3||0||1||1||0||0||1||.204|
|Laynce Nix, CF||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.276|
|Kevin Mench, LF||4||1||1||1||0||1||2||.288|
|Rod Barajas, C||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.216|
|2B - David Dellucci (4, Radke), Michael Young (5, Radke)|
|HR - Kevin Mench (4, Radke)|
|SF - Richard Hidalgo (1)|
|RBI - Richard Hidalgo (19), Kevin Mench (13)|
|SB - Alfonso Soriano (6, 2nd base off Radke/Mauer)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Young-Soriano-Teixeira|
|Ron Mahay (L,0-2)||1.2||3||3||3||0||0||1||5.17|
|Pitches-Strikes - Chris Young 96-64, Ron Mahay 27-19, Kameron Loe 25-17|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Young 3-8, Ron Mahay 4-1, Kameron Loe 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Chris Young 23, Ron Mahay 8, Kameron Loe 4|
|Shannon Stewart, LF||3||2||2||4||0||0||0||.281|
|Nick Punto, 2B||4||0||3||0||0||0||0||.256|
|Joe Mauer, C||3||0||1||0||1||0||1||.324|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||2||0||0||1||1||0||1||.381|
|Lew Ford, CF||4||0||1||0||0||0||4||.256|
|Jacque Jones, RF||4||0||0||0||0||3||1||.296|
|Matthew LeCroy, DH||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.299|
|a- Terry Tiffee, PH-DH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.238|
|Michael Cuddyer, 3B||4||2||3||0||0||1||0||.257|
|Juan Castro, SS||2||1||1||0||0||0||1||.244|
|a-grounded out for LeCroy in the 8th|
|2B - Shannon Stewart (4, C. Young), Michael Cuddyer 2 (7, C. Young, C. Young)|
|HR - Shannon Stewart (4, Mahay)|
|SF - Shannon Stewart (1), Justin Morneau (3)|
|SH - Juan Castro (3)|
|RBI - Shannon Stewart 4 (17), Justin Morneau (23)|
|2-OUT RBI - Shannon Stewart 3 (6)|
|CS - Lew Ford (2, 2nd base by Loe/Barajas)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Punto-Morneau|
|Brad Radke (W,4-3)||7||7||2||2||1||2||1||3.71|
|Juan Rincon (H,7)||1||0||0||0||0||3||0||2.51|
|Joe Nathan (S,11)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||1.65|
|HBP - Barajas (by Brad Radke)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Brad Radke 101-75, Juan Rincon 15-12, Joe Nathan 9-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brad Radke 7-11|
|Batters Faced - Brad Radke 29, Juan Rincon 3, Joe Nathan 3|
|Attendance - 27891|
|Game Time - 2:35|
|Temperature - 70|
|Umpires - Home - Marty Foster, First Base - Jim Joyce, Second Base - Lazaro Diaz, Third Base - Dana DeMuth|