ARLINGTON, Texas -- All-Star left-hander Johan Santana was making quick work of the Texas Rangers, striking out five of the first six batters he faced.
"Things didn't look particularly promising," manager Buck Showalter said.
Until the Rangers finally hit a bloop and then a couple of late blasts, two-run homers by Mark Teixeira and All-Star center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., to beat the Minnesota Twins and Santana 5-2 on Sunday in the teams' last game before the break.
"That was a big win for us, to be able to beat him on top of his game," Showalter said. "We have some good positive vibes about what we can be. We'll see. ... But games like today make you feel good about our ability to respond to challenges."
The Rangers (45-43) are tied with Oakland for the AL West lead after reaching the All-Star break with a winning record for the third year in a row -- Texas finished third the last two seasons. The Los Angeles Angels are only two games back, and Seattle 2½ back.
Santana (9-5) had five strikeouts before Kevin Mench led off the third with a single. Jason Botts, the next batter, hit a grounder and tripped at first base after stepping on Santana's foot as the pitcher covered the bag.
"I was fine. It's part of the game," Santana said. "I thought I threw pretty good. I was aggressive early, but they're a good hitting club."
The Rangers knocked three singles off Santana the following inning, and finally scored. They came within 2-1 on a run-scoring hit by left-hander Hank Blalock, batting sixth in the order for only the second time this season.
"That took away some of the invincibility that (Santana) seemed to be carrying at that time," Showalter said.
"It definitely brought us back to believing we could get to Johan and score some runs," Rod Barajas said. "He was making us look pretty bad."
Santana struck out seven and walked one over seven innings, losing his first decision in 10 starts (five victories) since May 17.
Rick Bauer (3-1), the second of five Texas pitchers, struck out two in a perfect inning. Akinori Otsuka pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 19 chances.
Teixeira's first homer in 13 games put the Rangers up 3-2 in the sixth. Matthews Jr., an All-Star for the first time this season, connected an inning later on a ball that barely cleared the wall and the glove of jumping right fielder Michael Cuddyer.
It was the first time in 40 starts -- since June 2, 2005, against Cleveland -- that Santana allowed more than one homer in a game.
"It was a high changeup to Teixeira and he hit it out. Matthews hit a good pitch," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Lew Ford had an run-scoring single and All-Star catcher Joe Mauer an RBI groundout for the Twins (47-39), who have lost four of five games -- but are still 22-6 since June 8. Minnesota is third in the AL Central, 11 games behind Detroit.
"Three weeks ago we were dead in the water. Now we have a chance," Gardenhire said. "Let's see what we can do with it."
Teixeira struck out twice against Santana before his homer to left, only his ninth of the season. The switch-hitting slugger has only three homers in 37 games, the others coming in consecutive games at Colorado, after hitting 43 last season (along with 144 RBI, the most ever by a switch-hitter) when the first baseman was an All-Star starter. He's not in the game this year.
"I know I can be better, but I'm not laying in bed at night wondering if I'm going to hit more home runs," said Teixeira, hitting .275 with 31 doubles and 49 RBI.
"Tex has spoiled us at a level that not many people have attained," said Showalter, who met briefly with Teixeira before the game. "He's got a good mind-set about it. I think he understands what the reality of things are, that he can't do it by himself."
Rookie second baseman Ian Kinsler had a leadoff single before Teixeira's homer. Barajas drew a two-out walk, the only one allowed by Santana, before Matthews Jr.'s 10th homer.
Cuddyer led off the second with a single off John Koronka and scored on Ford's single. Luis Castillo had a leadoff single in the third before Mauer's grounder.
Justin Morneau, the Twins' 25-year-old first baseman left off the All-Star team despite hitting .300 with 23 homers and 73 RBI, extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the second inning. He has hits in 27 of the last 28 games. ... Mauer finished the first half in an 0-for-10 slump, and with three hits in 18 at-bats, but still leads the majors with a .378 batting average. ... Texas plays its first 11 games, and 21 of 27, on the road after the All-Star break.