Seventh-inning rally lifts Twins to victory

Seventh-inning rally lifts Twins to victory

MINNEAPOLIS -- Bases loaded situations have not exactly spelled success for the Twins so far this season, as they entered Saturday with a .167 batting average with the bases loaded.

But tied at 2 with the Rangers in the seventh inning on Saturday, the Twins used a key hit from Delmon Young in a no outs, bases-loaded scenario to spark them. Young's double kicked off a six-run frame for the Twins as they defeated Texas, 8-3, before a crowd of 39,659 at Target Field on Saturday afternoon.

"I've seen some games where we had the bases loaded four or five times and don't get a run in," said second baseman Orlando Hudson. "It's one of those things. Delmon had a quality at-bat, a great at-bat, and ended up getting a big hit. There it is. Ballgame."

Hudson also came up big for Minnesota as he delivered the game-tying home run in the sixth, a run-scoring double in the seventh and three RBIs to help secure the victory.

"A huge inning for us there and a nice win for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was a nice comeback against a guy that was just really chewing us up."

The Twins had been dominated early on in the contest by Rangers starter C.J. Wilson. This was the first time that the Twins had faced Wilson as a starter. The left-hander had spent the previous four seasons strictly as a reliever for the Rangers before earning a spot in their rotation this spring.

Wilson entered the game holding left-handed hitters to a .102 batting average on the season. And early in the contest, he was able to shut down the Twins' big lefties as well as the rest of their lineup.

Minnesota couldn't get anything going early as Wilson retired the first seven batters he faced before J.J. Hardy's single in the third. Following the single, Wilson sat down the next 10 batters consecutively as he baffled the Twins with a fastball that reached 94 mph and a few offspeed pitches to mix in with his slider.

But with two outs in the sixth, Denard Span delivered just the second hit of the contest -- and the first by a lefty -- off Wilson. And Orlando Hudson made the hit count when he blasted a 1-0 pitch from Wilson into the left-field seats. The 365-foot shot was Hudson's third home run of the season.

"It was a cutter in," Wilson said of the pitch. "He stepped in the bucket and whacked it. I didn't think that ball was going over the fence. I thought it was popup. But it went out. It was a bad pitch."

And Hudson sending that "bad pitch" deep into the seats to tie the game is what seemed to spark the Twins' offense.

"Hudson putting it in the seats kind of woke us all up because Wilson pretty much dominated us all the way up to that point," Gardenhire said. "When a guy is dominating like that, you're waiting for something electric to happen. And it did with O-Dog."

The Twins carried that momentum into the seventh and despite the shadows starting to fall between the mound and home plate, the club's hitters were finally able to get a big inning started off Wilson. The lefty loaded the bases with no outs -- walking Justin Morneau, giving up a double to Michael Cuddyer and then walking Jason Kubel -- before seeing his day come to an end.

While the bases loaded with no outs would seem to be an ideal situation, it's one that's plagued the Twins so far this season. Minnesota had entered the game with a Major League high 66 at-bats with the bases loaded, but they had tallied just 11 hits over that span.

This time, however, their luck would change.

On the very first pitch thrown by reliever Chris Ray, Young belted a shot into the left-field corner for a two-run double. Hardy then blooped a single into shallow left to score two more runs -- thanks in large part to some head's up running by Young who scored from second base on the play -- and made it a 6-2 Twins lead. Hudson and Morneau then added two-out RBIs for an 8-2 lead.

"Good things happen when you load the bases," Young said. "We'd rather have problems with bases loaded than to never get the bases loaded. As long as you can squeeze out a run in a bases-loaded situation we're happy."

The late offense helped boost a strong effort by Twins starter Carl Pavano, who held the Rangers to just two runs over seven innings. Gardenhire said that Pavano had actually been prepared to go back out for the eighth having thrown just 95 pitches but the club went to their bullpen after taking a six-run lead.

The Twins hadn't delivered a lot of run support for Pavano, averaging just 3.55 runs per game which is the fewest for any Twins starter this season. But the club certainly made up for it late in this contest.

"It was definitely nice," Pavano said of the run support. "But like I always tell you guys, I don't go out there thinking about runs. I go out thinking about executing pitches, going deep in the game and getting quality outs. "

Pavano, who has pitched at least seven innings in seven of his 10 starts, managed to hold down the main part of the Rangers' order as the Nos. 3-5 hitters went just 1-for-12. Instead, it was Texas' No. 9 hitter, Julio Borbon, who drove in the only two runs for his club. It marked only the second time this season that the Rangers had received multiple RBIs from the ninth spot in their order.

But while the Rangers found some new production in their lineup, seeing Hudson provide the Twins with a lift was nothing new at all.

"Between the leadership, the camaraderie he brings and his game, the guy's all around a player," Pavano said of Hudson. "He's always keeping things fresh and he's a big part of why we're winning ballgames. It takes 25, but there's always individuals that stand out every game. I think everyone stepped up today."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.