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Rangers ride small ball to win against Twins

Minnesota Twins center fielder Danny Santana (39) slides into second base before Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor (73) can catch the ball in the sixth inning at Target Field. USA Today Sports

But the past two days at Target Field, the Texas Rangers proved they can win playing small ball, too.

A double and two sacrifices in the top of the eighth inning provided the edge the Rangers needed Thursday in a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Texas won three of the four games in the series and are now 6-2 on the first two legs of their season-long, 11-game road trip that concludes this weekend with a three-game series against the Washington Nationals.

“We’re playing good baseball,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I just want us to stay consistent and keep getting better.”

With the score tied at 4 through seven innings, Leonys Martin, like he did Wednesday in a 1-0 Texas win, started the rally with a leadoff hit.

This time, it was a double off the wall in right field. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Robinson Chirinos and slid in just ahead of a throw from shallow right-center field.

“He has to make a perfect throw to throw me out in that situation. It’s late in the game and we need that run,” Martin said. “It’s a tight game, eighth inning, that situation you have to (tag up).”

Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando, who pitched 1Z\c innings of scoreless relief, picked up the victory to improve to 2-2.

Twins right-hander Casey Fien, who entered the game at the start of the eighth, took the loss, dropping to 3-2 this season.

Both starters labored through the early innings, with Samuel Deduno loading the bases with nobody out in the second. He coaxed a pop out to second, got a strikeout and worked Shin-Soo Choo to a two-strike count before Choo dumped a double down the left field line to clear the bases.

“(Deduno) made a good pitch. He just flipped it down the left-field line,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That was a big three runs.”

Minnesota loaded the bases with nobody out in their half of the inning against Texas right-hander Nick Martinez but grounded back to the pitcher and lined into a 3-6 double play to end the threat.

“We had chances, plenty of people out there, just couldn’t get a hit,” Gardenhire said.