MINNEAPOLIS -- With their rotation depleted and the new slugger sidelined by a rash of injuries, the Texas Rangers have been forced to find alternate methods for winning.
It's working quite well in late May.
Leonys Martin doubled twice and scored three times, including the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and the Rangers beat Minnesota Twins 5-4 on Thursday to win their second straight four-game series on the road.
"Those guys have had to grind, and everybody has had to have been used," said manager Ron Washington, who has seen starting pitchers Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Martin Perez and first baseman Prince Fielder hit the disabled list as well as key hitters Jurickson Profar, Geovany Soto and others.
"So that's the way you play team baseball, and that's exactly what we're doing."
Shin-Soo Choo hit a three-run double in the second for the Rangers, but the Twins took a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning on Josh Willingham's first home run of the season, a no-doubt drive to the second deck above left-centre field.
Then the role players took over for the Rangers.
Alexi Ogando (2-2) got four outs for the victory, and Joakim Soria retired the last two batters for his 10th save. Soria saved the last two games of the series after he had his first blown chance of the season in Tuesday's 4-3 loss.
Martin hit a leadoff double in the eighth against Casey Fien (3-2), moved up on a sacrifice bunt and sprinted home on a sacrifice fly by Rougned Odour, beating a sweep tag by catcher Josmil Pinto. The throw by centre fielder Danny Santana, a rookie shortstop playing out of position, was off the plate and up the line.
"He has to make a perfect throw to throw me out in that situation," Martin said.
The Rangers tied it at 4 when Martin doubled and scored on Robinson Chirinos' single in the sixth. Samuel Deduno gave up nine hits while striking out two and was removed with one out in that inning.
With eight wins in their last 11 games, including three of four at Detroit last week, the Rangers have begun to find their stride.
That was evident in the second inning, when bases-loaded, nobody-out situations for both teams went opposite ways.
Deduno moved within one strike of escaping without any damage after an infield popup and a strikeout. But Choo, who served as the designated hitter to give his sore left ankle a break from left field with the short turnaround from the night before, drove a 2-2 curveball down the left-field line.
"I have to be better," Deduno said.
Alex Rios, who stretched his hitting streak to 12 games, started that rally with a sharp single. Martin scored easily from first base to put the Rangers ahead 3-0.
"I was thinking home plate all the way," Martin said.
Nick Martinez dodged trouble in the bottom of the frame when Pinto sent a soft roller back to the mound. After a short throw home for a forceout, Martinez got Eduardo Escobar to line hard into a double play.
The rookie was charged with more than three earned runs for the first time in five starts. He allowed nine hits and walked two in 5 2-3 innings.
"It was a learning experience for him today, to go out there and keep his team in the ballgame when he didn't have his best stuff. That was awesome right there," Washington said.
Trevor Plouffe and Willingham hit RBI singles in the third, but the Twins have only 14 runs in their last seven games, going 6 for 52 with runners in scoring position.
"That's the main focus, getting guys on, but we can't get them in," second baseman Brian Dozier said.
NOTES: Washington held SS Elvis Andrus out of the lineup to rest for the first time this season. ... Deduno walked Martin, ending a streak by Twins pitchers of 131 straight batters without an unintentional walk. ... The Rangers start a three-game series Friday at Washington, with RHP Colby Lewis (4-3, 5.10 ERA) pitching opposite Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-4, 3.42 ERA). ... The Twins will be in New York for three games, with RHP Ricky Nolasco (2-5, 6.12 ERA) taking the mound Friday against Yankees LHP Vidal Nuno (1-1, 5.49 ERA).