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TEX@MIN: Span ties the game with a double to center

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins struggled with runners in scoring position, and the bullpen faltered late after Nick Blackburn left due to injury in a 6-2 loss to the Rangers on Saturday at Target Field.

After being shut down offensively by the Rangers in their 4-1 loss on Friday, the Twins at least had plenty of chances to score Saturday.

The Twins reached base 18 times, including 14 times against right-hander Yu Darvish, but simply couldn't cash in, as they went just 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

"I think you can see it on the scoreboard, with 13 hits and 15 left on base," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We failed on a lot of opportunities to get some runs in. We just couldn't drive in anybody in today. We left way too many out there, so a little bit of a rough day there."

Minnesota actually fared well against Darvish, as he surrendered nine hits, four walks and hit a batter in 5 2/3 innings, but the Twins scored just two runs against him because they couldn't pick up any big hits with runners on base.

The Twins went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position against Darvish, and left the bases loaded in the second, fifth and sixth innings.

They managed to score on an error from third baseman Michael Young in the second and on an RBI double from Denard Span that tied the game at 2 in the sixth. But in the Twins' three tries with the bases loaded, Jamey Carroll struck out to end the second, Ryan Doumit struck out to end the fifth and Justin Morneau popped out against reliever Robbie Ross to end the sixth.

"We definitely had some good at-bats off of him," said Span, who went 3-for-5. "He pitched a good game and obviously got out of a lot of trouble. But we weren't able to get the big hit off him when we had his back to the wall."

Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn was effective, allowing two runs on seven hits -- including a solo homer from Josh Hamilton, over 5 1/3 innings -- but left the game with stiffness in his right shoulder after throwing a ball to David Murphy with one out in the sixth. Blackburn had an MRI exam on his shoulder after the game.

"He was commanding his breaking ball and throwing his pitches for strikes and keeping us off-balance," Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz said. "I don't know what happened to him but he was pitching good the whole game."

Left-hander Brian Duensing came on in relief and was able to get out of the inning, striking out Murphy and getting Mike Napoli to fly out to right.

But in the seventh, Duensing gave up a single to Brandon Snyder and walked Elvis Andrus, and was relieved by Jeff Gray with two outs and runners at first and third. Gray couldn't put out the fire, as he quickly served up back-to-back RBI singles to Adrian Beltre and Young.

The Rangers added two insurance runs in the ninth, as Beltre laced an RBI double off left-hander Glen Perkins, and later scored on a throwing error from shortstop Trevor Plouffe.

Former Twins closer Joe Nathan came in to close it out for Texas, even though it wasn't a save opportunity, and made it interesting by allowing a single to Morneau and a double to Josh Willingham with nobody out.

But the Twins ended up stranding both runners, as Doumit and Danny Valencia both struck out before Chris Parmelee grounded out to end the game.

Parmelee, though, said he believes the Twins will get it going offensively, despite having scored just a combined three runs in their two losses to the Rangers.

"We're up there swinging it well right now," Parmelee said. "It'll turn around for us. We're a good team. Things will start clicking again. The opportunities are there but we just need to get those timely hits."

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