ARLINGTON, Texas – Maybe someday Justin Morneau can beat the Twins. Just like a couple of his former teammates did on the day he was traded.
With Morneau in another uniform and another league, Matt Garza and Joe Nathan came back to haunt their old team, combining to pitch eight of the nine innings in Texas’ 2-1 walkoff victory.
Leonys Martin smacked a sharp single that nearly nailed Brian Duensing as it sailed past, scoring Alex Rios with the winning run and handing the Twins their sixth loss in seven games.
Mike Pelfrey pitched one of his strongest games yet for the Twins, cruising through seven innings on 98 pitches and holding the Rangers to one run, in the first inning. After that, he limited Texas to four hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven. In doing so, he sliced his ERA to 4.86 on the season.
“His last outing was really good, too. We think he’s moving pretty good now,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Seems like he’s pounding the strike zone really well.”
Unfortunately for the Twins, he didn’t get much help. Brian Dozier led off with his 15th home run, but Garza, who debuted with the Twins in 2006, matched Pelfrey after that. One night after the Twins were held hitless against Yu Darvish for the first six innings, Garza shut them down with just three hits over seven innings, while striking out nine.
The game remained tied into the ninth, when Nathan, who left the Twins as a free agent after the 2011 season, struck out two more Twins in a hitless inning.
The Twins bullpen couldn’t match him. A one-out double by Rios off Caleb Thielbar sparked Texas’ rally; two walks loaded the bases with two outs for Martin, who hit a 2-1 sinker past Duensing and set off a Rangers celebration.
• The Twins added a third catcher, filling Morneau’s roster vacancy with Josmil Pinto, a 24-year-old Venezuelan who hit a combined .309 with 15 home runs and 74 RBI at Class AA New Britain and AAA Rochester this year.
• The Twins will give Mark Hamburger another chance. The St. Paul Saints righthander said he will sign a minor league deal with the Twins on Tuesday. He signed with them in 2007 out of an open tryout. The Mounds View native was traded to Texas in 2008 and pitched for the Rangers in 2011, but he was released by Houston in February after a failed drug test.