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Liriano strikes out eight; lowers ERA to 1.83 in win

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Francisco Liriano, passed over for the All-Star game, is pitching like he deserves to be there.

Liriano allowed four hits in seven innings to win his sixth straight start and the Minnesota Twins beat the Texas Rangers 4-0 Saturday night to stop a three-game losing streak.

"It's their loss, it's the nation's loss, it's the world's loss not to see that young man pitch," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, disappointed Liriano didn't make the AL team. "But mistakes are made. Let's hope they don't make any more with Liriano."

Liriano (10-1) struck out eight and walked three, lowering his ERA to 1.83. His seven innings made him eligible for the league leaders and he took over the top spot in the American League, surpassing teammate Johan Santana (2.76).

Santana starts against Texas on Sunday.

Liriano, who leads all major league rookies with 102 strikeouts, took the All-Star snub in stride. He'll use the break to visit his family in the Dominican Republic.

"I'm not disappointed," Liriano said. "Maybe I can make it next year. I wish I could have made it but I can't worry about it."

The Rangers got only two runners as far as third against Liriano -- Gerald Laird with two outs in the sixth and Mark DeRosa with two outs in the seventh. Liriano got Michael Young to ground out to end the sixth and retired Kevin Mench on a grounder in the seventh.

"There are a few guys who have great stuff in the major leagues and (Liriano) is one of them," Young said. "He's got a great fastball, slider and change so you can't sit on one pitch. But I don't care who is pitching, as an offense you've got to find a way to push a run across the plate."

Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan pitched the final two innings as the Twins combined for a shutout for the third time in Liriano's last six starts.

Texas, which scored 18 runs in the previous two games, managed only one extra-base hit off Liriano on DeRosa's leadoff double in the fifth. That's where DeRosa stayed as Liriano retired the next three batters, two on strikeouts.

Torii Hunter homered, Jason Bartlett had a two-run double and Nick Punto had three hits to help the Twins end their longest losing streak since a four-game skid June 3-7.

The Twins took control with a three-run fifth off Rangers rookie John Rheinecker (4-3).

Hunter gave the Twins a 1-0 lead with his 14th homer, a 424-foot drive into the Twins' bullpen in left-center on the first pitch.

"It was a curveball and I wanted to put a good pass on it," Hunter said. "I saw it hanging and wanted to do something with it."

Shannon Stewart and Lew Ford followed with singles and Bartlett drove them both in with a double into the left-field corner.

Rheinecker allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings.

"Torii hit a breaking ball and the location was a little off," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "It's tough. Liriano is on his game so you know runs are going to be at a premium."

Minnesota threatened in the fourth inning when Luis Castillo led off with a double and stole third. Castillo tried to score on Joe Mauer's one-out flyball to left, but Jerry Hairston Jr.'s throw to catcher Laird easily beat Castillo.

Hairston's throw atoned for his fielding blunder on Castillo's double. Hairston took a bad angle on the line drive and the ball dropped to his left as Castillo raced to second.

The Twins stretched their lead to 4-0 in the ninth on Stewart's RBI single off Scott Feldman.

Notes

  • The Rangers were shut out for the fifth time this season. The Twins have four shutouts.
  • DeRosa had two of the Rangers' six hits.
  • Texas' Gary Matthews Jr. grounded into a double play in the third, his first of the season. Matthews had gone 317 at-bats without hitting into a double play, second-longest streak in the AL.
  • Stewart snapped an 0-for-15 slide with his fifth-inning single.
  • Mauer, who started the day with a league-best .388 average, went 0-for-4.
  • Liriano's 1.83 ERA also is the lowest in the majors.
  • Minnesota's Justin Morneau stretched his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games with a ninth-inning single.
 
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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Francisco Liriano throws seven innings and moves into the AL lead with a 1.83 ERA.  (AP)
Francisco Liriano throws seven innings and moves into the AL lead with a 1.83 ERA. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

F. Liriano
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 3
K 8
Minnesota

T. Hunter
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Minnesota Twins
Luis Castillo, 2B4010001 .274
Nick Punto, 3B4030001 .298
Joe Mauer, C4000003 .383
Michael Cuddyer, RF4020020 .268
Justin Morneau, 1B4110002 .301
Torii Hunter, CF4121000 .265
Shannon Stewart, DH4121001 .299
Lew Ford, LF4120001 .227
Jason Bartlett, SS4012013 .320
Totals3641440312 
Batting
2B - Luis Castillo (13, Rheinecker), Torii Hunter (12, Benoit), Jason Bartlett (6, Rheinecker)
HR - Torii Hunter (14, Rheinecker)
RBI - Torii Hunter (49), Shannon Stewart (21), Jason Bartlett 2 (8)
2-OUT RBI - Torii Hunter (21), Shannon Stewart (9), Jason Bartlett 2 (5)
SB - Luis Castillo (9, 3rd base off Rheinecker/Laird)
CS - Nick Punto 2 (3, 2nd base by Rheinecker/Laird, 2nd base by Littleton/Laird)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Punto-Castillo-Morneau, Bartlett-Morneau
Minnesota Twins
Francisco Liriano (W,10-1) 7400380 1.83
Juan Rincon (H,13) 1100000 2.06
Joe Nathan 1100020 1.75
Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 95-58, Juan Rincon 15-11, Joe Nathan 21-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 8-3, Juan Rincon 1-2
Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 26, Juan Rincon 4, Joe Nathan 4
Texas Rangers
Gary Matthews Jr., CF3000101 .329
Jerry Hairston Jr., LF4010011 .222
Michael Young, SS4010002 .317
Mark Teixeira, 1B4010031 .275
Mark DeRosa, RF4020011 .333
Hank Blalock, 3B4010032 .287
Ian Kinsler, 2B4000003 .322
Kevin Mench, DH2000113 .270
Gerald Laird, C2000111 .323
Totals3106031015 
Batting
2B - Mark Teixeira (31, Nathan), Mark DeRosa (25, Liriano)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Jerry Hairston Jr. 1
DP - Kinsler-Young-Teixeira, Hairston-Laird, Teixeira-Young
Texas Rangers
John Rheinecker (L,4-3) 6933011 3.96
Joaquin Benoit 1100010 5.05
Wes Littleton 1100000 0.00
Scott Feldman 1311010 5.40
Pitches-Strikes - John Rheinecker 88-56, Joaquin Benoit 17-13, Wes Littleton 9-6, Scott Feldman 23-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Rheinecker 10-3, Joaquin Benoit 1-1, Wes Littleton 1-1, Scott Feldman 2-0
Batters Faced - John Rheinecker 23, Joaquin Benoit 4, Wes Littleton 3, Scott Feldman 6
Game Information
Attendance - 36035
Game Time - 2:34
Temperature - 92
Umpires - Home - Paul Schrieber, First Base - Jim Joyce, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Doug Eddings