ARLINGTON -- The Twins hit four home runs, including a grand slam by Max Kepler, and closed out the first half with a 15-5 victory over the Rangers at Globe Life Park on Sunday afternoon.The Twins have won seven of their last nine games while the Rangers finish the first
ARLINGTON -- The Twins hit four home runs, including a grand slam by Max Kepler, and closed out the first half with a 15-5 victory over the Rangers at Globe Life Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Twins have won seven of their last nine games while the Rangers finish the first half losing nine of their last 12. The Rangers, at 54-36, still have the best record in the American League and the Twins, 32-56, have the worst.
But the Twins still won five of seven over the Rangers in the last 10 days. They also outscored the Rangers 62-30 in the seven games. The Twins also hit 14 home runs in those seven games including one each by Kepler, Kennys Vargas, Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier on Sunday.
"It was a nice turnaround to come back and keep the offense going," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "There were some big hits, and some big at-bats. I thought Vargas had a big day with the home run and a couple walks, including the one before the grand slam. Max just missed a couple balls the last couple days, but he got the big hit to widen the gap."
The 15 runs were the second most by the Twins in a game this season. They had 17 against the Rangers on July 2.
Tommy Milone picked up his second straight win for the Twins, allowing two runs in five-plus innings, Rangers starter A.J. Griffin also completed five innings but allowed six runs. Rangers starters are 0-7 with a 10.50 ERA in their last nine games.
"Any time you lose like this, it's ugly," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "If it was 15-14, would we feel any better? Absolutely not. Would our energy level look better? Yeah. The challenge is when things don't go well, it does not look good."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
First salami for Kepler: Griffin needed one pitch to get out of a fifth-inning jam and couldn't get it. With two on and two out, Griffin was up 1-2 on Kennys Vargas and ended up walking him. Kepler followed with the first grand slam of his career and the first for the Twins this season.
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
"I wasn't looking for anything [specific] but was just trying to put the bat head on the ball," Kepler said. "I was just trying to keep it simple, and it did the job."
Two-out blowout: The Twins broke the game open with seven runs in the seventh inning with five straight two-out hits off left-hander Cesar Ramos. Robbie Grossman and Eddie Rosario had run-scoring singles, Kurt Suzuki had a double, and then Escobar and Dozier hit back-to-back home runs.
Rangers waste double: The Rangers, trailing 1-0, didn't get a hit of Milone until Ian Desmond led off the fourth with a double. But the Rangers couldn't bring him around. Milone struck out Adrian Beltre, retired Ryan Rua on a grounder to third and Prince Fielder on a fly to left in the Rangers' first three at-bats with runners in scoring position.
"It got away from us on the mound, we had some defensive lapses, and we gave away some at-bats," Banister said.
Milone bears down: Milone took a one-hit shutout and a six-run lead into the fifth but ran into trouble with one out. Rougned Odor singled and Elvis Andrus doubled him home. Bobby Wilson brought in another run with a single and Shin-Soo Choo's base hit put runners on first and second. But Milone escaped the jam by getting Desmond to hit a grounder at third baseman Miguel Sano to start an inning-ending double play.
"It was huge," Milone said. "They [put] four hits together, and we killed that rally with that double play to avoid any further damage."
"He's starving for a single. He's been here for a while and hasn't seen one yet." -- Molitor on Vargas, who has three homers and five doubles, but no singles since rejoining the Twins on Monday
REPLAY FAVORS RANGERS
The Twins had a runner on first and one out in the second when Rosario smacked a double past the shortstop, barely beating the throw from Rua in left field. But the Rangers' replay reviewers noticed that Rosario's foot came off the bag just a split second while Andrus continued to apply the tag. The Rangers challenged, and the safe call was overturned. Suzuki then flied out to end the inning.
Twins: The Twins open the second half at home with a three-game series against the Indians. Right-hander Ervin Santana will be on the mound at 7:10 p.m. CT Friday in Game 1 of the series.
Rangers: The Rangers open the second half facing the Cubs at 1:20 p.m. CT Friday at Wrigley Field. The Rangers will begin a 10-game road trip with left-hander Martin Perez making his first start against the Cubs..
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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](https://twitter.com/RhettBollinger)** and listen to his podcast.