MINNEAPOLIS -- All-Star hopeful Ian Desmond hit an opposite-field homer off Twins reliever Fernando Abad leading off the 10th inning to give Texas a 3-2 victory in Friday night's series opener at Target Field.
The Rangers now own a franchise-best 52 wins through the halfway point of the season. Texas' previous best through 81 games had been a 50-31 mark in 2012.
"It's a good number," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "But we're not going to toast it at the halfway point. We're one game at a time. But it's a good place to be at right now."
• True grit: Texas battle-tested at halfway mark
Pinch-hitter Jurickson Profar broke a scoreless pitchers' duel between Minnesota's Ervin Santana and Texas' Martin Perez with a two-run single in the seventh inning. However, the Twins fired back with a two-run, opposite-field home run by Trevor Plouffe in the bottom of the frame to tie the game.
"We didn't do a lot offensively," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "Trevor backed up [Brian] Dozier's good at-bat with the opposite-field homer, and we were just trying to find a way to keep pushing. We couldn't get another run across, and they hit the long ball to win."
Plouffe and Desmond each finished with three hits and a homer to lead their teams. Dozier singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games and his on-base streak to a Major League-best 23 games.
Matt Bush and Sam Dyson combined for three scoreless innings of relief to close out the victory for the Rangers.
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Squeeze turned into double play: The Twins, in a scoreless game, had runners at second and third with one out in the fifth, and Molitor tried to squeeze a run home. But Kurt Suzuki popped up the bunt, first baseman Mitch Moreland snagged the ball in foul territory and threw easily to third base for an inning-ending double play. The Rangers had three double plays behind Perez.
"It's a great way to get out of an inning," said Perez, who didn't allow his first hit until the fifth and went seven strong innings. "You just have to trust your stuff in those situations."
Trevor ties it: Minnesota has struggled with allowing opponents to respond immediately after putting runs on the board, but this time, it was the Twins who struck back with Plouffe's opposite-field homer that barely cleared the overhang in right field.
"He's always had pretty good gap power over there," Molitor said. "We talked about trying to hit [Perez] the other way tonight, and we didn't do it successfully. We rolled over a lot of sinkers, but [Plouffe] stayed on that one, and we got a good result."
Santana strong: The Twins squeezed a season-high 117 pitches out of their ace in his third consecutive solid start. Santana allowed three hits through 6 1/3 innings and departed after walking two in the seventh, when reliever Ryan Pressly allowed Profar's single, charging the two runs to Santana. The right-hander has rebounded nicely from a tough start to June, in which he was tagged for five earned runs in three straight starts.
"Ervin had a nice night," Molitor said. "I thought the first inning was kind of big for him. He was searching a little bit, but he got through the first inning, and he settled in. The slider came around, and he was spotting his fastball good, and his changeup became more effective."
• Santana makes imaginary pickoff attempt, Desmond throws it into center field
Buxton makes brilliant catch: After Desmond put the Rangers ahead in the 10th, Rougned Odor almost gave them extra runs. With two outs and a runner on first, Odor launched a drive to deep left-center and immediately went into his home run trot, but center fielder Byron Buxton raced to the wall and made a terrific catch. According to Statcast™, Buxton covered 92.4 feet to make the play, with a top speed of 17.6 mph and a route efficiency of 93.2 percent.
"It just kind of kept carrying," Buxton said. "I thought I had a bead on it earlier, and it just kind of kept going, and I just stuck with it. I put my head down at the end to see where the ball was, and I knew I was getting close, so I made a leap for it." More >
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Dozier went 1-for-4 with a single, snapping a streak of 11 consecutive games with an extra-base hit, a Twins record. It was the longest such streak by any Major Leaguer since Alex Rodriguez had an 11-game streak spanning the 2006 and 2007 seasons, and the longest by a middle infielder since Rogers Hornsby had a 12-game streak in 1928.
Rangers: Right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez will start for the Rangers at 1:10 p.m. CT on Saturday against the Twins at Target Field. This will be Gonzalez's second start since replacing Colby Lewis in the rotation.
Twins:Tyler Duffey saw his perfect game bid foiled in the sixth inning in his last start at New York, but it was a huge step in the right direction for the struggling right-hander, who went a season-high eight innings and allowed only one run on two hits. He will take the mound for the Twins, looking to build on the successful outing.
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