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Twins Send Liriano To Mound Hoping To Avoid Sweep

The Minnesota Twins swept a three-game series from the Texas Rangers back in May. The Rangers have a chance to do even better this evening, when they attempt to take all four games from the Twins in finale of this set between division leaders at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

On Wednesday, Vladimir Guerrero’s 430th career home run leading off the sixth inning proved to be the difference as Texas eked out a 4-3 win. Guerrero finished with three hits and two RBI for the Rangers, winners of four straight. Josh Hamilton also homered and drove in two runs, while Andres Blanco finished 2-for-3 in the victory.

Texas continues to pace the American League West by 8 1/2 games over the Oakland Athletics.

Rangers starter C.J. Wilson (13-5) continued his excellent season with six strong innings, allowing just three runs — two earned — on seven hits and two walks while fanning six. Matt Harrison notched his second save.

“C.J. gave us six good innings,” Washington said. “The fourth and fifth innings they worked him pretty good, but he battled.”

Danny Valencia went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored for the Twins, who have lost four of five but still lead Chicago by 3 1/2 games after the White Sox lost to Baltimore last night. Jason Kubel and Denard Span each had two hits in defeat.

Minnesota’s Brian Duensing (7-2) suffered his first loss since the All-Star break after yielding four runs, six hits and a walk in six frames.

With Texas trying to complete its first four-game sweep of the Twins in Arlington since 1987, it will send left-hander Cliff Lee to the hill. Lee has lost his last two starts, though, and is just 2-4 while pitching to a 4.18 ERA since being acquired by the Rangers, who are just 3-6 in games he’s started since the trade.

Lee was pounded in taking the loss last Saturday in Baltimore, as he allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings, which ballooned his overall ERA on the year to 3.09.

“I’m not really frustrated, I’m disappointed in the result,” Lee said. “Things like that happen. I know why it happened. I’m not frustrated, no.”

Lee is 8-3 lifetime against the Twins with a 3.40 ERA.

Minnesota, meanwhile, will pin its hopes on lefty Francisco Liriano, who has won his last five decisions and is 11-7 with a 3.45 ERA. Liriano hasn’t pitched since last August 18, when he did not get a decision against the White Sox after being reached for five runs and six hits in five innings of a 7-6 win.

Liriano is 1-1 with a 4.74 ERA in five games (three starts) against the Rangers.

Despite their poor results in this series, Minnesota has still won seven of its last 12 matchups with Texas.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.