ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Rangers have been waiting for
Joaquin Benoit to secure a spot in their rotation. He took a step
in that direction Wednesday night.
Benoit pitched seven strong innings and Alex Rodriguez hit a
tiebreaking two-run homer as the Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins
4-1."It's one of my best games," Benoit said. "With good pitches
came good results. The team won and that's the main thing. It's one
step toward seeing what happens the rest of the way. I can't ask
for more. It's a step forward."Benoit (4-4) allowed a homer to Torii Hunter in the sixth, but
otherwise shut down the Twins, who've lost four straight and 11 of
their last 16.Benoit was 1-3 with a 7.13 ERA in his previous five starts, but
he gave up one run and four hits in his most effective start of the
season. Benoit struck out five and walked three."This is the way we all know he's capable of pitching,"
Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "Hopefully this will go a
ways toward establishing what he's capable of. There's always going
to be competition. People are going to have opportunities between
now and the end of the season to establish themselves as we make
plans. He certainly did that tonight."Ugueth Urbina got three outs for his 26th save in 30 chances.Urbina -- who earned his 200th career save -- and fellow relievers
Brian Shouse and Francisco Cordero allowed one hit over the final
two innings. Texas' bullpen has given up four runs in 31 innings
over the last nine games."That's remarkable," Showalter said. "Those are the three
toughest outs in baseball. It's a tough job to do and a lot of
tight situations to close out."Rookie Mark Teixeira also homered for the Rangers, who've won
three in a row and 10 of 15.Rodriguez snapped a 1-all tie in the sixth with his 22nd home
run off former Rangers' pitcher Kenny Rogers after Donnie Sadler
drew a leadoff walk.Rodriguez had been slumping, hitting .259 over a 50-game span to
fall from a season-high .336 average. He's been putting in extra
time in the batting cage with hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo."I've been working hard on my swing and it's coming around,"
Rodriguez said. "I've really been trying to work on my mechanics.
I'll be fine."Rodriguez is 8-for-16 with three homers and seven RBI all-time
against Rogers."I did okay but I'd like to have a couple back," Rogers said.
"I messed around and walked Donnie, that cost me, especially ahead
of Alex. It came back to haunt."Minnesota (44-45) dipped under .500 for the first time since
they were 14-15 on May 3."Texas has been struggling and they beat us two in a row so
that tells you where we're at," Rogers said. "We've got to play
with a little more life and enthusiasm."Rogers (7-5) allowed four runs and seven hits over seven
innings. He struck out three and walked one."I thought Kenny pitched good enough to win, but he made one
bad mistake walking the leadoff man (in the seventh) and you know
A-Rod is going to get his homers," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire
said. "We didn't do much offensively. We try to be patient, try to
take pitches. We put good swings on the ball and they go foul. It's
not like we're not trying. It's just not working for us right
now."Rogers, who is third in Rangers history with 101 victories,
signed as a free agent with the Twins on March 12. Rogers went 13-8
for Texas last season but wasn't re-signed by the Rangers.Rogers retired the first five batters before Teixeira gave Texas
a 1-0 lead with his 12th homer, a two-out shot to center field in
the second inning.Hunter tied it at 1 in the sixth with his 13th homer.In the seventh, Michael Young's single drove in Ryan Ludwick
from third to extend the Rangers' lead to 4-1.
The Twins have allowed 23 homers in their last nine games.
...Rogers is 36-22 at The Ballpark in Arlington, giving him the
most losses in the history of the stadium. ... Seven of Rodriguez's
last 10 hits have gone for extra bases. ... Minnesota is 1-7 in