Buxton, Maeda, Twins win 4th in row; Texas skid hits 6

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Byron Buxton launched an early two-run homer into the second deck, Kenta Maeda earned his first win since May 3 and the Minnesota Twins beat the reeling Texas Rangers 4-2 Sunday for their fourth straight win.

The Twins matched their longest winning streak of the season. Minnesota slugger Nelson Cruz exited with neck tightness after singling in the first inning and striking out on three pitches in the third.

The Rangers have lost six straight, equaling their longest skid of the season. They’ve dropped 19 of their last 22 games to fall 21 games under .500, their most since the end of the 2018 season (67-95).

Buxton, who returned to the lineup Saturday after missing 39 games with a strained right hip, hit his first home run since May 4. He connected eight pitches into the game, tagging Dane Dunning (2-6) after Luis Arraez led off with a single.

“Byron just picks back up where he kind of left off,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “These are the kinds of things that he does, and he’s just a fantastic player.”

The Twins added two runs in the third when Max Kepler pulled a two-out single to right field scoring Trevor Larnach, and Jorge Polanco also scored when the ball scooted under Joey Gallo’s glove.

Maeda (3-2) was cruising before giving up back-to-back homers to Adolis Garcia and Gallo with one out in the sixth to end his day. He allowed five hits throwing 84 pitches in his second start since missing 20 games with a right adductor strain.

Relievers Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala and Hansel Robles held Texas scoreless over the final 3 2/3 innings on one hit and one walk. Robles earned his sixth save in eight opportunities.

Dunning gave up 10 hits in four innings, failing to win for his seventh straight start. His 18 first-inning runs this season are the most in the American League.

In the three losses, Texas batters hit .210 with 22 strikeouts and five walks. On Sunday, Garcia and Gallo had four of the Rangers’ six hits.

“If we’re going to be a complete offense, we’ve got to get production from everybody,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said.

SHORT HOPS

The three-game series sweep was Minnesota’s second of the season, the other coming May 24-26 at home vs. Baltimore. It was the Twins’ first road sweep since Sept. 24-26, 2019 at Detroit. … Garcia’s 18th homers are the most for a Rangers rookie before the All-Star break. He’s hit four vs. Minnesota in seven games. … Arraez, Andrelton Simmons and Larnach each had three hits. … Gallo, who won a Gold Glove last season, also had a two-base throwing error in the eighth inning.

‘PEN IS MIGHTIER

During the Twins’ four-game winning streak, their bullpen has allowed only three earned runs in 16 2/3 innings.

“It’s fun to know you’re getting called on to get a job done and then get the job done,” said Duffey, who went 1 2/3 innings Sunday.

HONORING MIKE BELL

The Twins will honor their 2020 bench coach, Mike Bell, who died March 26 at age 46 from cancer, in a tribute before Monday’s home game against Cincinnati. The Reds are managed by Mike’s brother, David. Mike was the Rangers’ first-round supplemental draftee in 1993. The Bells’ father, Buddy, played eight seasons for Texas among his 18 big league seasons.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: 3B Josh Donaldson (calf tightness) missed his third straight game and is still being evaluated.

UP NEXT

Twins LHP J.A. Happ (3-3, 6.12 ERA) will face Cincinnati RHP Tyler Mahle (7-2, 3.39) in the first of two home games vs. the Reds.

Rangers RHP Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.09), second in the majors with a 0.96 home ERA, will open a four-game home series vs. Oakland on Monday night. Gibson will go against RHP Frankie Montas (7-6, 4.21).

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