- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Cole Hamels lost control of his signature cutter, and that led to another victory by last-place Minnesota over first-place Texas.

“I just all of a sudden couldn’t find it,” Hamels said Sunday after the Rangers’ 5-4 defeat.

Hamels (9-2) was knocked out in the fifth inning of his shortest start this season and lost for the first time since May 27 and only the third time since Texas acquired him last summer.

Hamels had won a Rangers record nine consecutive road decisions and went 4-0 in June with a 1.51 ERA over six starts. And after watching his team get routed 17-5 on Saturday, Texas was hoping he would spark a rebound.

Instead, he allowed five runs and a season-high 10 hits while walking three. He left after walking his first two batters in the fifth.

“No pitcher’s immune to having a game like this,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “He still continued to try to battle and give us as much as he could. I made the decision. That was about as far as I was willing to go.”

It was just the second time this season Hamels failed to complete five innings.

“They had a really good game plan going into the game,” Banister said. “They were going to make him work. It looked like he had trouble finding his rhythm, finding that good release point

Brian Dozier drove in two runs and scored a pair to back Kyle Gibson (2-5), who won his second straight start after going winless in his first seven. The Twins stranded plenty of runners against Hamels - in the fourth, they had a double, two singles and stolen base, but still couldn’t’ score. Even so, they did just enough damage as Hamels struggled to control his cutter.

“He had to go to his fastball and then he lost command and started leaving stuff over the middle of the plate,” Dozier said. “Against good pitchers like that you really have to take advantage of the mistakes, and we did that today.”

Shin-Soo Choo drove in three runs. He led off a game with a home run for the third time this year, a drive into the left-center seats. Gibson then retired eight straight batters - he a stretch he repeated later in the game.

Dozier hit a two-run triple in the third and scored on Robbie Grossman’s single for a 3-1 lead.

“For me, I know I’m going to face them again in my next start, so just get ready for that, keep the same sort of approach with being aggressive like I was in the first inning and try to maintain that for a little bit longer than that,” Hamels said.

LAST GASP

Elvis Andrus singled in a run in the fifth, but the Twins opened a 5-2 lead in the bottom half when Max Kepler singled in a run and Eddie Rosario hit into a run-scoring forceout against Tony Barnette. Choo hit a two-run double in the seventh off Ryan Pressley to cut the lead to one run, but Brandon Kintzler pitched around Robinson Chirinos’ two-out double in the ninth for his fourth save in as many chances, retiring Choo on a game-ending groundout.

PATRIOTIC RANGERS

The Rangers were in a patriotic mood as they headed to the airport after the game. The players wore matching outfits- a navy blue blazer covered in white stars, bright red pants, a white shirt, and a red-and-white striped tie. Many even had red or blue shoes for the special occasion. Fittingly, the team was flying to Boston, where they will face the Red Sox in a July 4 matinee.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis (right latissimus dorsi) was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room for newly promoted Michael Roth.

Twins: 3B Trevor Plouffe was scratched before the game with sore ribs. … INF Eduardo Escobar is day to day with a hamstring injury. General manager Terry Ryan said he isn’t expecting a DL stint. … Trevor May, who hasn’t played since June 9 because of back spasms, was back in the clubhouse. Manager Paul Molitor said May wasn’t activated Sunday because he was coming off pitching in back-to-back games in his minor league rehab assignment.

UP NEXT

Rangers: Nick Martinez (1-1) is to make his fourth start this season when the Rangers travel to Boston to open a three-game series against the Red Sox. Martinez has not had a decision in his three previous starts.

Twins: Minnesota opens a three-game set against Oakland, with Ricky Nolasco (3-6) set to make his team-leading 17th start. Nolasco is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts against the Athletics.

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