Leonys Martin pointed to the dugout and raced toward first base with his teammates charging out.
He had done it again. He had another walk-off hit and another memorable night in his young career.
Martin lined a two-out single up the middle in the ninth inning to score Alex Rios from third and lift the Texas Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night.
It was the sixth walk-off victory for the Rangers this season, two of them coming on hits by Martin. He homered to end a game against the Angels on July 30 for his first walk-off knock but had a different approach this time when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded.
“I wasn’t looking for a homer. I was looking for a pitch to hit,” said Martin, who snapped an 0-for-10 skid with the single. “I stayed within myself and tried to get a hit anywhere. The key is to win the game.”
It capped a 20-win month by the Rangers, their fourth month with at least 20 wins in franchise history and first since May 2009. Texas, which has won eight of its last 10, also maintained a two-game lead over the A’s in the American League West.
“Definitely a good month for us, but none of us thought about a 20-win month during it,” said closer Joe Nathan, who earned the win with a scoreless ninth. “But we knew we were winning games and playing good baseball. Hopefully we can repeat in September what we did this month.”
Rangers starter Matt Garza got off to a shaky start by giving up a homer to Brian Dozier to start the game and then issuing a five-pitch walk to Chris Herrmann. Garza settled down after that and worked through seven innings of a 1-1 game.
He retired 12 of 13 at one point, and his only real trouble came in the seventh, when he issued a leadoff walk and another free pass with one out. He got out of it, though, by getting Clete Thomas to fly out and Darin Mastroianni to strike out in what became a 30-pitch inning.
“I just had to make pitches, man,” Garza said. “I just didn’t want to come out, and I kept telling myself that ‘This is your ballgame. You just want to get out of it.’ I made some pitches, missed some pitches, and got out of it.”
It was Garza’s best start since his debut with the Rangers on July 24, when he held the Yankees to an unearned run over 7 1/3 innings.
The Rangers had tied the game in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Beltre. Elvis Andrus had a one-out single and moved to third on a single by Ian Kinsler. Andrus came up limping on the play, exited with lower back tightness and will miss at least one game. But that didn’t stop him from rushing the field after the dramatic ninth.
With the game tied 1-1 in the final frame, Twins lefty Caleb Thielbar retired A.J. Pierzynski on a pop-up but then gave up a double to Alex Rios.
The Twins intentionally walked pinch hitter Jeff Baker to get to Jurickson Profar, who flew out to center but advanced Rios to third. That brought up pinch hitter Craig Gentry, who worked a walk against right-hander Josh Roenicke to load the bases.
The Twins made another pitching change to get the lefty-lefty matchup against Martin by bringing in lefty Brian Duensing. It didn’t pay off, though, when Martin lined a 1-2 sinker to center and danced on the base paths with his elated teammates.
“It was a hard-fought battle,” manager Ron Washington said. “We got ourselves in position at the end, and Martin came through with a base hit for us.”