When things looked their worst for Kyle Lohse this season and, coincidentally, when his team needed him most, the Twins' most embattled starter pitched his team to an important victory and along the way saved his starting job for at least another turn.
Lohse lugged the majors' worst-performing rotation's worst ERA (9.71) into Wednesday's start, and -- with top prospect Francisco Liriano waiting in the wings for him to falter -- limited the powerful Rangers to just one run in six innings in a 4-3 victory. It was Lohse's best start of the year.
He didn't dominate, but he pitched out of trouble at almost every turn, stranding nine baserunners.
"He just pitched his tail off today," said manager Ron Gardenhire, who added that Lohse will make his next scheduled start, Tuesday in Detroit, after all.
Gardenhire already had juggled the rotation to push Lohse's spot past this weekend's important four-game series against Chicago, indicating he could more easily make a move in that spot (with Liriano), depending on Lohse's performance Wednesday.
"We're just hoping for quality starts, and he gave us one," the manager said. "We needed that. He needed that for his confidence.”
"He's not going to back away from anything. He'll be the first to tell you he's struggled a little bit. These players know what's at stake here when they go out on the mound. They know the situations involved. You just have to be stronger than that, and that's what he was today."
REPLAY: Kyle Lohse pitched a strong six innings to take a 1-1 game to the seventh, and the Twins scored two in the seventh on two walks, two hit batters and a double-play grounder to pull away for a 4-3 victory at Texas and their first road series win of the year.
After Torii Hunter's RBI single made it 4-1 in the top of the eighth, the Twins got a break in the bottom of the eighth when 2B Mark DeRosa hit what looked like a tying three-run homer -- until it missed clearing the wall by about an inch. He settled for a two-run double and was stranded as the Twins improved their road record to 5-13.
NOTES, QUOTES:Wednesday's victory was the Twins' 11th come-from-behind win. As never-say-die as that sounds, it also means they've trailed in 30 of their 34 games this season.RF Michael Cuddyer's 10-game hitting streak ended Wednesday, but the hot-hitting Cuddyer still reached base on a walk and scored a run in the Twins' 4-3 victory at Texas. During his streak, he batted .450 (18 for 40) with nine doubles, a triple, a homer and eight RBIs.RHP Joe Nathan, the two-time All-Star closer, got just his fifth save opportunity of the season Wednesday, and continued his string of perfect chances with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. The team has only six saves (including LHP Francisco Liriano's three-inning save in Tuesday's 15-5 win).LF Shannon Stewart got his second day off in a row Wednesday because of flu-like symptoms. Stewart likely could have played without much trouble, but manager Ron Gardenhire took no chances with his leadoff hitter, given the big four-game series against AL Central-leading Chicago coming up this weekend. By giving Stewart the past two days off, the left fielder gets three days, counting Thursday's scheduled off day, and should be 100 percent for Friday's series opener.2B Luis Castillo missed Wednesday's game as a precaution after jamming his sore left knee during Tuesday's game. Castillo is expected to be fully recovered by Friday's opener of a key series against the White Sox.RHP Kyle Lohse (2-3), who lowered his ERA from 9.71 to 8.33 with his best start of the season Wednesday, on pitching amid speculation his spot in the rotation was on the line: "I'm not trying to impress anybody or trying to do anything other than trying to win ballgames, and that's what we did today. You hear a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff you don't want to hear, stuff you try not to pay attention to. But until they tell me I'm not one of the starting five, I'm going to keep going out there and doing what I've got to do. I'm not going to put any more pressure on myself. There's enough pressure out there, no matter what."