ARLINGTON, Texas — Max Kepler scored the go-ahead run on a second consecutive wild pitch from Texas reliever John King in the seventh inning, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Rangers 3-2 on Saturday.
Former Texas slugger Nelson Cruz hit a tying two-run homer in the fourth, his team-leading 15th for Minnesota and the 432nd of his career to pass Cal Ripken Jr. for 49th place.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa connected on a two-run shot for the Rangers in the third inning, his sixth of the season and first since May 2 as the Rangers lost the matchup of last-place teams for their 18th defeat in 21 games.
A day after beating Texas 7-5 in 10 innings with help from back-to-back walks with the bases loaded, the Twins won their third consecutive game — one short of their longest winning streak of the season — by taking the lead without getting a hit.
Kepler walked with one out in the seventh and took a base three times in a span of four pitches from King (5-5) with two outs and No. 9 hitter Luis Arraez at the plate, starting with a stolen base.
The second wild pitch walked Arraez, but was close enough to his right elbow on the way to the backstop for the Rangers to challenge in the hope that a hit by pitch would have sent Kepler back to third. The walk was confirmed on review.
Byron Buxton singled with one out in the fourth for the first baserunner against Texas starter Kolby Allard in the Minnesota center fielder’s first game since he was sidelined by a right hip strain on May 6. Cruz homered two pitches later.
Caleb Thielbar (2-0) replaced Minnesota starter Randy Dobnak and pitched a perfect sixth with a strikeout. Alex Colomé matched Thielbar in the seventh.
Hansel Robles struck out Adolis García, the majors’ rookie home run leader with 17, to strand two runners in the eighth, and Taylor Rogers struck out two in the ninth for his seventh save. García struck out three times.
King replaced Allard, who allowed two runs and struck out six in six innings. Dobnak, who had surrendered eight runs and four homers in 4 2/3 innings in his previous start against the New York Yankees, gave up two runs in five innings.
Twins: SS Andrelton Simmons (left ankle tightness) returned to the lineup after missing the series opener while 3B Josh Donaldson (right calf tightness) remained out. Both exited early in the game before the trip to Texas. Donaldson also has been dealing with an upper respiratory issue. “We’ll learn more about how JD is feeling physically and how his leg is doing as well, but we’ll figure that out later on,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Twins RHP Kenta Maeda (2-2, 5.01 ERA) faces RHP Dane Dunning (2-5, 4.57) in a rematch of the Twins’ 6-5 win on May 3, their only victory in a four-game series at home. Maeda, who got the win with 5 1/3 scoreless innings, is making his second start since returning from a right thigh strain that put him on the injured list. Dunning allowed three runs — two earned — in 5 2/3 innings in the first meeting.