MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Matt Garza and his Minnesota teammates pondered ways for the young right-hander to snap his winless streak at the Metrodome.
"We were joking about it before the game: Maybe we should wear our road uniforms," Garza said.Even after allowing a leadoff home run, Garza managed to churn out six-plus strong innings for his first career home win as the Twins beat the Texas Rangers 4-2 on Wednesday night.Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer each homered for the Twins, who completed the three-game sweep of the Rangers in a series between two teams long out of the pennant race.In his second season with the Twins, Garza (4-6) set a very unimpressive franchise record with his 0-10 record in 11 starts at home. His record is now 1-10 with a 5.91 ERA. But it's a step in the right direction for the 23-year-old who's still trying to prove that he belongs in Minnesota's starting rotation."We don't have to talk about that anymore, and that's a nice thing for Matt," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Garza's home woes. "He's got a big smile on his face."Garza didn't make the team out of spring training, but the Twins are hoping he can become a cornerstone as the team tries to gain back its playoff-contending form of the last five years."It's coming along. It's a learning process. Sometimes it's taxing. Sometimes it's rewarding," Garza said.He looked to be in for another rough night when Frank Catalanotto led off the game with a shot to the right-field seats. But the 23-year-old settled down, retiring 12 straight at one point. It didn't hurt either that Minnesota's four runs was the most support Garza has received at home in his career.Garza lasted 6 1/3 innings, allowing six hits with no walks and five strikeouts.He wore down with one out in the seventh after Garrett Jones misplayed David Murphy's single in left field, allowing Jason Botts to score and pull Texas to 3-2. Garza left to a standing ovation and Glen Perkins struck out pinch-hitter Sammy Sosa and Travis Metcalf to end the threat.Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his 34th save in 38 opportunities.With the loss, the Rangers clinched their third straight losing season.Manager Ron Washington was surprised at his team's lackluster situational hitting during the Rangers' 2-8 road trip, which followed a five-game winning streak."Hopefully we get back to Texas, back to home cooking, back to their own beds, back to their families, and hopefully for the seven games at home we can pick it up again," Washington said.Rangers starter Vicente Padilla (6-10) was allowed to pitch while Major League Baseball reviewed his appeal to a seven-game suspension for throwing at Nick Swisher in Oakland on Sunday.If it was indeed Padilla's final game of the season, it wasn't one to remember. He strayed from his usual strength -- his fastball -- in favor of off-speed pitches that didn't quite hit the mark. Padilla didn't preserve his team's first-inning lead for long, walking two batters in the first before Justin Morneau's two-out single scored Jason Bartlett."He piled up a bunch of pitches in the first two innings," Washington said. "Just had problems with his command early. He's more effective when he uses his fastball."Minnesota scored a run on one hit in each of the first three innings to take a 3-1 lead as Padilla struggled with his control. Padilla walked five batters -- all in the first three innings, including all three leadoff men.Padilla lasted five innings and had two strikeouts.
Catalanotto hit his ninth-career leadoff homer. ... Morneau's RBI single in the first broke an 0-for-16 slump. ... With Michael Young taking a planned turn as the DH, Hank Blalock was out of the lineup again. He has a sore neck, and he's not yet ready to return to the field. "I hope we can get him out there. If we don't, we've just got to wait 'til the spring," manager Ron Washington said. ... Minnesota loaded the bases twice, including once with no outs in the sixth, but failed both times to score. ... Twins slugger Torii Hunter walked three times, tying a career high. ... Brad Wilkerson tied his career high with four strikeouts.