ARLINGTON -- Normal protocol was scrapped Saturday night as the Texas Rangers tried to end a season-worst skid.
Joe Nathan hadn't pitched two full innings in nearly three years, and Nelson Cruz found himself in a different spot in a Rangers lineup that hadn't delivered in the clutch in what seemed like that long.
Desperation hadn't set in at Rangers Ballpark, but sometimes change is good.
Nathan logged scoreless innings in the ninth and 10th, and Cruz doubled home Adrian Beltre with the winning run as the Rangers beat Minnesota 4-3 to snap a five-game slide.
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Cruz went 3 for 5 and had doubled in Beltre in the second inning for the Rangers' first run. Nathan (1-2) won for the first time this season with his first six-out effort since Aug. 21, 2009.
Josh Hamilton and Beltre launched solo homers as the Rangers climbed out of 2-0 and 3-2 deficits.
The victory was the Rangers' first this month and could send them to the All-Star break riding a little momentum if they can complete the first half with another victory tonight.
"We needed this one bad," said Nathan, who hadn't pitched since June 28 and threw a season-high 36 pitches. "We fell into a funk. For us to pull this one out and pull it out the way we did, these usually do get teams going."
Nathan worked around a leadoff double in the ninth and a one-out infield hit in the 10th. Each time the Twins put a runner at third base with two outs, but Nathan escaped both threats with a strikeout.
He fanned Josh Willingham, who had homered in the sixth, to give Cruz his chance in the 10th after Beltre started the inning with a single to left field.
Cruz also hit a liner to left, on an 0-2 pitch from Kyle Waldrop (0-1), but Willingham couldn't cut it off before it reached the wall. Third-base coach Dave Anderson sent Beltre home with no outs, and he slid in safely ahead of Joe Mauer's tag.
"After I got two strikes, I just tried to drive the ball," Cruz said. "I thought at least Beltre would get third. Dave was pretty aggressive to send him."
It was the fifth regular-season game-ending hit of Cruz's career and just the second walk-off win for the Rangers this season. They had multiple chances to end the game sooner, but couldn't deliver the key hit.
The Rangers had two chances against Twins starter Samuel Deduno to seize control of the game, but missed in two at-bats in the second, and saw Cruz thrown out at home to end the inning while trying to advance on a wild pitch.
Their best chance was in the fifth after David Murphy singled and Mike Napoli walked to start the inning. Craig Gentry sacrificed them to second and third, but Ian Kinsler struck out on three pitches and Elvis Andrus bounced out to shortstop.
The Twins missed out on a chance against Robbie Ross in the eighth after consecutive one-out walks, but Justin Morneau bounced into a double play to end the threat.
The Rangers' bullpen delivered four scoreless innings in relief of Derek Holland, who went six innings in his first start since June 5."They did an unbelievable job," said Holland, who threw 88 pitches. "They picked me up from where I left off. They went out there and threw strikes."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760