ARLINGTON, TEXAS - The Twins rode Samuel Deduno's untested arm -- and most of their relievers' arms, for that matter -- as far as they could on Saturday night. Someone needed to come up with a key hit, and the Twins never did.
Texas found a way to score and edge the Twins 4-3 in 10 innings at Rangers Ballpark. Nelson Cruz's RBI double enabled Adrian Beltre to score the winning run and make a winner of former Twins closer Joe Nathan, who pitched two scoreless innings.
"A lot of plays in the game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A lot of missed opportunities by both sides. That's why the game ends up going that deep. And then they finally came up with a couple of big hits there at the end of the game."
The winning run scored as Kyle Waldrop tried to bury his sinking fastball down in the strike zone to Cruz.
"I didn't execute it," the young reliever said.
Cruz sent a shot to left that Twins outfielder Josh Willingham mishandled. By the time he got the ball in, Beltre had been waved home, and he beat the relay throw by a hair. Waldrop, who entered the game in the 10th, took the loss.
"It stinks. I couldn't get the ball to sink out of the zone when I wanted it to," he said.
Nathan made pitches when he had to, which the Twins have seen plenty in the past when he earned a franchise-record 260 saves for them. With Ben Revere on first in the 10th, Mauer tried to hammer a Nathan fastball but flied out to the warning track in left, losing the matchup with his fellow American League All-Star.
"He's a guy that caught me for eight years," Nathan said of Mauer. "I was out there trying to think what he thought I would throw and throw something else. It was such a cat-and-mouse game."
Willingham battled Nathan for seven pitches before striking out with Revere on third to end the 10th. The Twins were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base.
Given the circumstances -- it was his first major league start, the Twins were using their 11th starter of the season and the Rangers have some dangerous hitters -- Deduno wasn't bad. He pitched into the sixth inning and left after Texas tied the score 3-3 on Beltre's solo homer.
It could have been much worse, but Deduno is a breaking-ball guy, and that seemed to make him a good matchup with the aggressive-swinging Rangers.
The Twins scored twice in the second on an RBI groundout by Trevor Plouffe followed by Brian Dozier's RBI single. Texas got one back in the bottom of the inning on Cruz's RBI double. Josh Hamilton then greeted Deduno with a long home run to left in the fourth, one that made him the first Rangers player to get 27 homers and 75 RBI by the All-Star break.
Willingham gave Deduno hope for his first major league victory when he hit a 408-foot homer to center off Derek Holland in the sixth, giving the Twins a 3-2 lead. Deduno took the mound for the sixth, but Beltre's home run sent him to the showers. As Gardenhire went to the mound, members of the Twins' infield took turns patting Deduno on the back.
"A lot of pitches," Gardenhire said of Deduno. "He fought through some innings. Made some big pitches and got out of some big jams; fifth inning. The sixth inning he just hung a slider to Beltre. That was it. But he got into the sixth, not too far, but it was needed.
"I thought he threw some really nice breaking balls as advertised. He misfired with his fastball. He was able to throw his slider over almost every time he wanted to."