Final

Series: Game 1 of 3

Texas leads 1-0 (as of 5/8)

Game 1: Monday, May 8
Minnesota4Final
Texas6
Game 2: Tuesday, May 9
Minnesota15Final
Texas5
Game 3: Wednesday, May 10
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Twins 4

(13-19, 3-13 away)

Rangers 6

(18-15, 9-10 home)

7:05 PM ET, May 8, 2006

Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas 

123456789 R H E
MIN 002000101 4 11 0
TEX 00402000 - 6 13 0

W: J. Koronka (4-1)

L: B. Radke (3-4)

S: A. Otsuka (4)

Blalock, Rangers ensure Twins' road woes continue

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- When the Texas Rangers acquired left-hander John Koronka in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on March 31, they were trying to find a fifth starter.

They got much better than that.

Koronka allowed seven hits in 6 1-3 innings and Hank Blalock went 4-for-4 as the Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 on Monday night.

Koronka (4-1) allowed three runs in his 10th major league start, seventh with the Rangers this season. He struck out one and walked two as he became the first major league rookie with four wins this season.

And it was far from his best outing for the Rangers. In his previous start, he allowed one run and six hits in 8 1-3 innings of a 2-1 win over Baltimore.

"I wasn't as sharp as I have been," Koronka said. "I knew it when I went back to throw a fastball and couldn't hit the outer third of the plate. And early on when I threw changeups, I left them up. Confidence-wise, it helps a lot knowing I didn't have my best stuff and I still could win."

Rangers manager Buck Showalter has been impressed with Koronka's overall performance.

"There's a lot of guys who've had good starts in the majors, but I like the fact that he's got some deception, he has a good idea about holding runners, he understands the importance of using both sides of the plate, he can throw three pitches at three different speeds," Showalter said.

The Rangers sent utility player Freddie Bynum to the Cubs for Koronka as part of a three-team trade.

Texas, which had won six straight before getting swept in a three-game weekend series by the New York Yankees, got back on track with a 13-hit attack against three Minnesota pitchers.

Akinori Otsuka allowed one run in the ninth and earned his fourth save in as many chances.

Phil Nevin keyed a four-run Texas third with a two-run single. Michael Young added two doubles, giving him 15, second in the American League to the 17 of Boston's Mike Lowell.

The Rangers normally depend on the long ball, but they went without a homer for the fourth straight game.

"We've heard so much talk about how we have to play traditional baseball -- small ball," said Texas' Gary Matthews Jr., who has a 10-game hitting streak. "Now we have to hear about not hitting a home run in four games. As long as we stay in first place and end up with a 'W,' it doesn't matter how we win."

Twins starter Brad Radke (3-4) had a rough outing, allowing six runs and 11 hits in five innings.

In his previous start, Radke gave up four hits in seven innings of a 6-1 victory over Kansas City, but Radke did not have the same results against a tougher Texas lineup.

"I made some good pitches that they laid off of," Radke said. "A couple of walks hurt. You've got to tip your cap. They had a good approach."

Radke, who's had nine seasons of 10 or more victories for the Twins, has an uncharacteristic 7.75 ERA.

"I'm thinking it can't get any worse," Radke said. "The confidence is there. It just gets frustrating."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Radke is pitching better than the results show.

"His location, his arm strength, his fastball are there," Gardenhire said. "But when he makes a mistake, they kill it. He's such a competitor, been such a good pitcher for us. It's tough for us to watch."

Luis Castillo had three RBI for the Twins, who fell to 3-13 on the road.

Minnesota took a 2-0 lead in the third on Castillo's RBI groundout and Joe Mauer's sacrifice fly, but Koronka retired Michael Cuddyer on a forceout to end the inning.

The Yankees had a five-run inning in each of the three games over the weekend, and Showalter was pleased that Koronka was able to limit the Twins to the two in the third.

"I like the way he minimized the damage in the two-run inning," Showalter said. "Over the weekend, we had a big inning in every game and they got away from us."

Texas loaded the bases in the four-run third with the help of consecutive walks by Radke. Rod Barajas scored the first run on Mark Teixeira's single, and Matthews rounded third on the play. Matthews stopped, attempted to go back to third, and was tagged out in a rundown.

But Nevin followed with a two-run single and Kevin Mench added an RBI single later in the third to stretch Texas' lead to 4-2.

Game notes


Nevin surpassed 700 career RBI. ... Matthews was back in the lineup after missing the final three innings of Sunday's game with a slight quad injury. ... The Twins had won four of their previous six. ... Brad Wilkerson's 10-game hitting streak ended for Texas. He went 0-for-4.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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