ARLINGTON, Texas — Adolis García and the struggling Texas Rangers found a temporary solution to their problem of hanging on to leads as they enter the final month of the AL playoff race.
Just win it with a walk-off.
García homered leading off the bottom of the ninth inning after striking out his first four times up, lifting the Rangers to a 6-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
García drove in his 100th run of the season on his 34th homer, a 430-foot drive into the second deck in left field.
The 30-year-old Cuban slugger dropped his head at home plate and glanced skyward, all without watching the flight of the ball because he knew it was gone. After a pause of several seconds, García started a slow jog toward first base, tugging hard at his jersey as he turned toward his teammates in the dugout.
Mitch Garver was on deck when García connected, having twice given the Rangers the lead with homers among his four hits and four RBIs.
“I’ve got to give a shoutout to Adolis because I’ve been there, man,” Garver said. “I’ve punched out four times in a game, and you really don’t want that fifth at-bat. And for him to come out there and do what he did … it was super impressive.”
Texas ended up squandering three leads before finally winning for just the fourth time in 16 games. The Rangers pulled within a game of Seattle, which leads the AL West after Texas spent 140 consecutive days atop the division coming off six consecutive losing seasons.
Royce Lewis twice matched Garver to get the AL Central-leading Twins even, first with a three-run homer in the fifth off Texas starter Jon Gray after Garver’s three-run shot in the first.
Lewis’ RBI single for a 5-5 tie in the eighth came after Garver’s leadoff homer in the seventh. It was the fourth blown save for José Leclerc and the 29th for the Rangers against 26 saves.
The Twins missed out on a sweep but ended up 5-2 against the Rangers in a season series that spanned just 11 days. Minnesota remained five games ahead of Cleveland in the division.
“Every time we play them, it’s a battle with their lineup and the way they play,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I was happy with the way that we stuck it out, played hard. We easily could have won that game, too. And the way we’ve been playing, we’ve won that game more often than not lately.”
Rookie reliever Cody Bradford (3-1), the sixth Texas pitcher, had a 1-2-3 ninth for a bullpen that has struggled to produce clean innings.
García’s homer came on the fifth pitch from Josh Winder (2-1).
After Marcus Semien scored for a 4-3 Texas lead on a bases-loaded pitch behind García before his fourth strikeout in the sixth, Carlos Correa’s bouncing single in the seventh got Minnesota even again.
Lewis answered Garver’s go-ahead solo shot in the seventh with a run-scoring single in the eighth, but Texas reliever Will Smith kept it at 5-5 by getting Correa on an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
“It’s a big win for these guys,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’ve been through a lot and have a lot of baseball (left). But this is one I thought we really, really needed.”
The teams combined for 24 hits with 22 runners left on base, but the game was decided with the bases empty by García, who was in a 10-for-70 slump and a strike away from his first five-strikeout game.
Instead, the two-time All-Star recorded his fourth career walk-off hit, three of which are homers.
“That’s a lot of pressure on you, especially when you’re up there with two strikes,” Bochy said. “He’s not feeling about his day at that point. Got a hold of one. Good for him, and good for us.”
Garver has seven homers of his 15 in the past 14 games. Four have come against Minnesota, the team that drafted him in 2013 and where he spent his first five seasons before an offseason trade to Texas.
It was the 10th multi-homer game for a Texas player this season and the second for Garver. The four hits, which included singles in the third and fifth, tied a career high. He did it three times with the Twins.
Twins: CF Michael A. Taylor went on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain, and utilityman Willi Castro was activated after missing 18 games with a right oblique strain. Baldelli said Taylor, who has tried to play through the injury but can’t run at full speed, should have time to recover before the end of the regular season.
Rangers: Bochy said RHP Nathan Eovaldi, out since July 27 with a right forearm strain, came out OK after another bullpen session Sunday. There was no immediate word on what’s next.
Twins: An important three-game series at Cleveland starts Monday with RHP Pablo López (9-7, 3.72 ERA) set to face RHP Lucas Giolito, one of three pitchers the Guardians claimed after a waiver-wire dump by the fading Angels.
Rangers: The final three-game set of the season with Texas rival and fellow AL West playoff contender Houston starts Monday. LHP Andrew Heaney (9-6, 4.16) is set for the opener.
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