Rangers' booming bats send Twins to third straight loss

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Rangers have rediscovered
their home run strokes.

Michael Young and Gary Matthews Jr. connected, sending the
Rangers to a 9-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.

Texas hit a club record and major league-leading 260 homers in
2005, four short of the big league standard, but started the night
with only 91 long balls this season -- 10th in the AL.

The Rangers have started to show some power lately, scoring 18
runs in the past two games with the aid of six homers and 15
extra-base hits.

Hank Blalock added three hits and three RBI for the Rangers.

"We've put up a couple of good games in a row," Blalock said.
"We've been kind of streaky this year. So hopefully we can ride
this for a while."

Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel and Justin Morneau each hit a solo homer
for Minnesota, which has lost three straight after an 11-game
winning streak. Starting pitcher Carlos Silva left early with a
strained knee.

The Rangers scored eight times in the first three innings and
spot starter John Wasdin was the beneficiary.

"I can't say enough about the offense," said Wasdin, making
his second start since coming off the disabled list July 1. "There
have been some ups and downs. The boys are on fire and they're
ready to go."

Wasdin (2-1) protected the big lead, giving up three runs, seven
hits and three walks in five-plus innings to help Texas win for the
third time in four games.

Wasdin started in place of Kevin Millwood, who won't take the
mound until after the All-Star break while he recovers from a
strained right biceps. Millwood, who signed a five-year, $60
million contract as a free agent last December, is tied with
Vicente Padilla for the team lead with eight victories.

"John can fill a number of roles," Rangers manager Buck
Showalter said. "It's good to have him back. Every club needs one
of those guys."

Silva (4-9) departed with a strained right knee in the second
inning after struggling in his second consecutive start. He gave up
seven runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings to Milwaukee on July 1,
and Texas knocked him around for five runs and six hits in 1 2/3

The Rangers jumped on Silva in the first inning when Matthews
led off with a double and Young ripped a 420-foot homer for a 2-0

Texas left runners on second and third in the first, and when
the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs in the second, Twins
trainer Rick McWane and manager Ron Gardenhire went to the mound
and removed Silva from the game.

Silva said he caught his spikes on the mound while pitching to
Matthews in the first inning and twisted the knee, but he remained
in the game and faced five batters in the second.

"I wasn't able to use my back leg to push off," Silva said.
"I had no power. If you can't use your legs, it's hard to pitch."

Silva will have an MRI on Monday when the team returns home.

Mark Teixeira greeted reliever Willie Eyre with a two-run double
in the second, and Blalock followed with a two-run single to extend
Texas' lead to 6-0.

After Morneau's RBI double produced Minnesota's first run in the
third, Matthews' ninth homer in the third off Eyre gave the Rangers
an 8-1 advantage.

Trying to climb out of an early hole hurt the Twins' offense.

"When you get down like that, you can't do much," Gardenhire
said. "You've got to go base to base and we don't like to play
like that. When you have to play defense all the time, it puts a
dagger in you."

Mauer's leadoff homer in the fifth and Kubel's leadoff drive in
the sixth pulled the Twins to 8-3, but Blalock's run-scoring single
in the sixth made it 9-3.

Morneau's solo shot in the seventh off Ron Mahay reduced the
deficit to 9-4.

Game notes
Texas hadn't scored a first-inning run in 14 games. ...
Wasdin improved to 6-1 in 19 career appearances against the Twins.
... Minnesota RHP Pat Neshek made his major league debut after
being called up from Triple-A Rochester on Thursday. Neshek allowed
one hit in two shutout innings. ... The Twins have lost eight of
their last 11 games against the AL West after winning 10 of their
first 14.