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Blalock's bat, Koronka's arm get Rangers back on winning track

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- -When the Texas Rangers acquired left-hander John Koronka in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on March 31, they were trying to find a fifth starter.

They received much better than that.

Koronka allowed seven hits in 6 1/3 innings and Hank Blalock went 4-for-4 as the Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 on Monday night.

Koronka (4-1) allowed three runs in his 10th major league start, seventh with the Rangers this season. He struck out one and walked two as he became the first major league rookie with four wins this season.

And it was far from his best outing for the Rangers. In his previous start, he allowed one run and six hits in 8 1/3 innings of a 2-1 win over Baltimore.

"I wasn't as sharp as I have been," Koronka said. "I knew it when I went back to throw a fastball and couldn't hit the outer third of the plate. And early on when I threw changeups, I left them up. Confidence-wise, it helps a lot knowing I didn't have my best stuff and I still could win."

Rangers manager Buck Showalter has been impressed with Koronka's overall performance.

"There's a lot of guys who've had good starts in the majors, but I like the fact that he's got some deception, he has a good idea about holding runners, he understands the importance of using both sides of the plate, he can throw three pitches at three different speeds," Showalter said.

The Rangers sent utility player Freddie Bynum to the Cubs for Koronka as part of a three-team trade.

Texas, which had won six in a row before getting swept in a three-game weekend series by the New York Yankees, jumped back on track with a 13-hit attack against three Minnesota pitchers.

Akinori Otsuka allowed one run in the ninth and earned his fourth save in as many chances.

Phil Nevin keyed a four-run Texas third with a two-run single. Michael Young added two doubles, giving him 15, second in the American League to the 17 of Boston's Mike Lowell.

The Rangers normally depend on the long ball, but they went without a homer for the fourth game in a row.

"We've heard so much talk about how we have to play traditional baseball -- small ball," said Texas' Gary Matthews Jr., who has a 10-game hitting streak. "Now we have to hear about not hitting a home run in four games. As long as we stay in first place and end up with a 'W,' it doesn't matter how we win."

Twins starter Brad Radke (3-4) had a rough outing, allowing six runs and 11 hits in five innings.

In his previous start, Radke gave up four hits in seven innings of a 6-1 victory over Kansas City, but Radke did not have the same results against a tougher Texas lineup.

"I made some good pitches that they laid off of," Radke said. "A couple of walks hurt. You've got to tip your cap. They had a good approach."

Radke, who's had nine seasons of 10 or more victories for the Twins, has an uncharacteristic 7.75 ERA.

"I'm thinking it can't get any worse," Radke said. "The confidence is there. It just gets frustrating."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Radke is pitching better than the results show.

"His location, his arm strength, his fastball are there," Gardenhire said. "But when he makes a mistake, they kill it. He's such a competitor, been such a good pitcher for us. It's tough for us to watch."

Luis Castillo had three RBI for the Twins, who fell to 3-13 on the road.

Minnesota took a 2-0 lead in the third on Castillo's RBI groundout and Joe Mauer's sacrifice fly, but Koronka retired Michael Cuddyer on a forceout to end the inning.

The Yankees had a five-run inning in each of the three games over the weekend, and Showalter was pleased that Koronka was able to limit the Twins to the two in the third.

"I like the way he minimized the damage in the two-run inning," Showalter said. "Over the weekend, we had a big inning in every game and they got away from us."

Texas loaded the bases in the four-run third with the help of consecutive walks by Radke. Rod Barajas scored the first run on Mark Teixeira's single, and Matthews rounded third on the play. Matthews stopped, attempted to go back to third, and was tagged out in a rundown.

But Nevin followed with a two-run single and Kevin Mench added an RBI single later in the third to stretch Texas' lead to 4-2.

Notes

  • Nevin surpassed 700 career RBI.
  • Matthews was back in the lineup after missing the final three innings of Sunday's game with a slight quad injury.
  • The Twins had won four of their previous six.
  • Brad Wilkerson's 10-game hitting streak ended for Texas. He went 0-for-4.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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In just his 10th major league start, John Koronka yields three runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.  (AP)
In just his 10th major league start, John Koronka yields three runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. (AP)

Players of the Game
Texas

M. Teixeira
AB 3
R 2
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
Minnesota

L. Castillo
AB 5
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 3
 
Minnesota Twins
Shannon Stewart, LF4010112 .295
Luis Castillo, 2B5013000 .343
Joe Mauer, C4001003 .299
Torii Hunter, CF4020010 .252
Michael Cuddyer, RF4020002 .323
Justin Morneau, 1B4010002 .206
Rondell White, DH4110002 .161
Tony Batista, 3B3110001 .248
   a- Luis Rodriguez, PH1000000 .259
Nick Punto, SS3220100 .270
Totals3641142212 
a-grounded out for Batista in the 9th
Batting
2B - Michael Cuddyer (7, Benoit)
SF - Joe Mauer (3)
RBI - Luis Castillo 3 (15), Joe Mauer (11)
2-OUT RBI - Luis Castillo (7)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Michael Cuddyer 1, Shannon Stewart 1
DP - Punto-Castillo-Morneau, Castillo-Morneau
Minnesota Twins
Brad Radke (L,3-4) 51166310 7.75
Dennys Reyes 1.2100010 0.00
Willie Eyre 1.1100010 3.75
IBB - Teixeira by Brad Radke
WP - Brad Radke (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Brad Radke 77-45, Dennys Reyes 20-14, Willie Eyre 19-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brad Radke 6-3, Dennys Reyes 4-0, Willie Eyre 2-1
Batters Faced - Brad Radke 24, Dennys Reyes 6, Willie Eyre 5
Texas Rangers
Gary Matthews Jr., CF3120110 .308
    Adrian Brown, CF0000000 .233
Michael Young, SS3120101 .343
Mark Teixeira, 1B3221101 .273
Phil Nevin, DH4112005 .244
Hank Blalock, 3B4041000 .333
Kevin Mench, RF4011012 .300
Brad Wilkerson, LF4000011 .261
Rod Barajas, C4110001 .205
Mark DeRosa, 2B3000001 .343
Totals3261353312 
Batting
2B - Gary Matthews Jr. (9, Radke), Michael Young 2 (15, Radke, Reyes), Rod Barajas (2, Radke)
RBI - Mark Teixeira (17), Phil Nevin 2 (26), Hank Blalock (25), Kevin Mench (26)
2-OUT RBI - Phil Nevin 2 (18), Kevin Mench (7)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Kevin Mench 1
DP - Mench-Teixeira
Texas Rangers
John Koronka (W,4-1) 6.1733210 3.65
Joaquin Benoit (H,5) 1.2200010 2.70
Akinori Otsuka (S,4) 1211000 2.30
Pitches-Strikes - John Koronka 97-60, Joaquin Benoit 25-18, Akinori Otsuka 16-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Koronka 8-9, Joaquin Benoit 2-2, Akinori Otsuka 3-0
Batters Faced - John Koronka 27, Joaquin Benoit 7, Akinori Otsuka 5
Game Information
Attendance - 18609
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 81
Umpires - Home - Ed Montague, First Base - Jerry Layne, Second Base - Mark Wegner, Third Base - Marvin Hudson