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Twins offense comes up empty in loss to Rangers

Gibson delivers six shutout innings, but bats sqaunder early chances

MINNEAPOLIS -- Runs have been hard to come by for the Twins recently, and it was the case yet again on Wednesday night at Target Field.

Kyle Gibson tossed six scoreless innings, but the offense faltered and reliever Jared Burton gave up the go-ahead run in the seventh to hand the Twins a 1-0 loss to the Rangers.

Gibson was solid, giving up six hits with no walks and four strikeouts but was left with a no-decision as the Twins were shut out for the third time this season. The Rangers scored in the seventh thanks to a bunt single, a stolen base and a bloop single against Burton.

"We gave up one and unfortunately we had chances," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had chances to score early and they made enough pitches. It was a cat-and-mouse (game) after that. They needed a big hit and they got one that flipped into the outfield and there you have it. We hit some right on the nose at some people, but that's way those games go."

The shutout spoiled a strong outing from Gibson, who was again impressive at home. He's now posted a 1.85 ERA in five starts at Target Field this season. But it took him a career-high 107 pitches to get through six innings, which left the bullpen vulnerable in a tie game.

"I want 105 pitches to last me seven, eight or nine innings," Gibson said. "I want to be more efficient. I probably had seven or eight three-ball counts. I think a lot of those turned into outs, so I'm just wasting pitches. If I can get guys out on three of four pitches, it makes a big difference."

After Gibson departed, Leonys Martin started the rally for the Rangers in the seventh against Burton with a one-out bunt single before stealing second on a play that was confirmed by instant replay. Luis Sardinas came through with the single to left field to score Martin.

It proved to be the game-winner as the Twins have had trouble scoring runs over the last week. It marked the sixth time in seven games the Twins were held to two runs or fewer.

"It just felt like the first team to score would win," Rangers left-hander Joe Saunders said. "The pitching and defense were great."

The Twins were held in check in the early part of the game by Saunders, who was making his first start since April 4 after suffering a stress fracture in his left ankle. Saunders seemingly worked in and out of jams all night, but was still able to throw five scoreless innings as the Twins went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position against him.

The Twins had a prime opportunity to cash in with the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning, but Brian Dozier flied out to the warning track in left-center field to end the scoring threat.

"Saunders threw the ball very well," Gardenhire said. "It was the first time we'd seen him in a long time. He had good stuff. So you tip your hat to him."

The Twins had a chance to tie the game in the seventh after Eduardo Escobar singled off reliever Shawn Tolleson to open the inning and was bunted to second base by Danny Santana. But Dozier grounded out before the Rangers went to left-hander Neal Cotts to face Joe Mauer. Mauer struck out on a 2-2 slider to strand Escobar, which led to a chorus of boos from the home crowd.

"It was tough," Mauer said. "I'm probably a lot more frustrated than those people that were booing."

Rangers closer Joakim Soria bounced back after blowing the save in Tuesday's game. He threw a scoreless ninth to pick up his ninth save. The Twins haven't scored more than five runs in game since May 13 and are averaging just 1.7 runs per game over their last seven contests.

"It's frustrating not scoring runs," Mauer said. "It's frustrating squaring a couple balls up and they don't fall, but you just gotta keep working at it."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.
Read More: Minnesota Twins, Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar, Joe Mauer, Kyle Gibson