MINNEAPOLIS(AP) As the powerful
continued to whiff at the soft-throwing
asked the rookie left-hander if he was turning into a strikeout pitcher.
''There's no chance that's happening,'' Duensing said. ''It was one of those nights. Maybe there were some shadows in the
Duensing pitched like a veteran in his third career start, striking out eight in seven innings to lead the Twins to a 3-2
victory over the Rangers on Friday night.
Duensing (2-1) allowed three hits and walked one for the Twins, who have won eight of their last 10 games to creep back into
contention in the AL Central.
''He was fantastic,'' manager
said. ''He used all of his pitches. He changed speeds. It was really fun to watch.''
(6-3) gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings for the Rangers, who got an RBI-double from
in the ninth and had the tying run on second base.
looking on a close call for his 33rd save to pull Minnesota within four games of first-place Detroit in the division.
had a run-scoring single and then made a key play when he threw out
trying to steal second base in the eighth.
Duensing spent almost all of the first three months at Triple-A Rochester, and was being used primarily as a long reliever
after being recalled at the beginning of July. Gardenhire inserted him into the rotation after injuries to
to start the game, but retired the next 11. He didn't allow a hit until
singled with two outs in the fourth.
''Since I've been recalled, the game has really slowed down and I've been feeling really comfortable on the mound,'' Duensing
said. ''I'm still nervous, but I try and relax and just try and play catch. So far, so good, I guess.''
Both teams are in the thick of the playoff chase. The Rangers, who took two of three from the
New York Yankees
in the Bronx, fell 2 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL wild card.
The Twins have a steeper hill to climb to catch Detroit and get to the postseason.
They started the game Friday night with a sense of urgency, getting an RBI-single from Mauer, an RBI-triple from
and made it 3-0 when
bounced one off Hunter's thigh for an infield hit.
It was a rough night in that regard for Hunter, who later took a liner to the chest off the bat of
. But he was able to stay in the game after both shots, showing the kind of toughness that should endear him to manager
and the rest of his teammates as they chase their first playoff appearance since 1999.
''I'm quite sure he'll have some black and blue marks but he just showed the battler that he is,'' Washington said. ''But
I guess you've got to give Duensing his credit too because he made those three runs stand up.''
extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single in the sixth inning, but Murphy's double in the ninth just missed being
a game-tying homer, bouncing high off the baggie in right field.
''Definitely the definition of coming up a little bit short right there,'' Murphy said.
NOTES: Twins 3B coach
can add another title to his resume: groundskeeper. The game paused briefly in the top of the third inning when Hunter complained
about a high spot on the pitching mound. Ullger came out of the dugout with a rake and pounded it down, and the game resumed.
... If all goes well, Gardenhire said RHP
will pitch Tuesday against Chicago. ... Texas RHP
worked a perfect eighth inning in his ML debut. ... Kinsler stole two bases and has 26 this season.