Liriano’s no-hit bid ends in 8th, Twins top Texas

Published 8:57 am Monday, June 13, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Francisco Liriano gave the Texas Rangers more Target Field trouble.

Liriano sniffed his second no-hitter of the season, sitting in the dugout Sunday for nearly a half-hour before Adrian Beltre led off the eighth inning with a clean single, and the Twins topped the Texas Rangers 6-1.

The Rangers fell to 1-9 at Minnesota since the new ballpark opened last year. They had won nine of their last 12 games before losing three of four in the series.

Email newsletter signup

“I always say, ‘Pitching stops everything,’” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “They outplayed us for the last two ballgames.”

Following Scott Baker’s complete game Saturday, Liriano (4-6) needed only 64 pitches to retire the first 18 batters against the high-scoring Rangers. The lefty, who held the Chicago White Sox hitless in a wild effort May 3, sat in the dugout for 27 minutes in the bottom of the seventh before falling behind 3-0 to Beltre and giving up his first hit.

“He was trying to throw it for a strike, and he threw the pitch over the middle of the plate,” said Beltre, who later scored on a single by Yorvit Torrealba.

That’s all that went right for the Rangers.

Elvis Andrus was the first to reach base, on a fielding error by rookie third baseman Luke Hughes with one out in the seventh, a questioned ruling by official scorer Gregg Wong.

Then the Twins scored five times in the bottom of the inning, after an injury to Texas starter Matt Harrison.

“I got a little bit nervous in the eighth inning. I got behind in the count, and I had to throw a fastball,” said Liriano, who matched a season high by striking out nine in eight innings. He allowed two hits without a walk.

The Rangers had plenty of pop in their lineup, with only regulars Mitch Moreland and Mike Napoli missing, but they looked lost against Liriano. Washington even benched Andrus after a lackadaisical play in the seventh at shortstop led to an error and contributed to five unearned runs.

“I didn’t like his attitude,” Washington said, adding: “Elvis is better than that. Elvis doesn’t have a problem. Elvis is an excellent ballplayer, but every now and then when he gets like that I have to send a message.”

Liriano came close to becoming the first Twins pitcher to throw twin nine-inning no-hitters in the same season. Dean Chance had a pair of hitless performances in August 1967, although the first one was a five-inning game.

Roy Halladay pitched two no-hitters last year for the Philadelphia Phillies — a perfect game in the regular season and a no-no in the NL playoffs. Nolan Ryan was the last pitcher to throw a pair of no-hitters in the same regular season, in 1973 for the California Angels.

Harrison (5-6) left after being struck on his left triceps muscle by Danny Valencia’s line drive leading off the seventh, and reliever Mark Lowe was given extra time to warm up. Then the Twins sent 10 batters to the plate, highlighted by Michael Cuddyer’s three-run homer to stretch the lead to 6-0.

Harrison wasn’t bad himself, allowing five hits and two runs — one earned — while walking three and striking out three through six innings. The left-hander has been bothered by pain from a kidney stone, but he bounced back from a rough start against the Detroit Tigers Tuesday by pitching strong into the seventh.

“He battled. He was throwing the ball really well,” first baseman Michael Young said.

Liriano’s perfect game ended with one out in the seventh, when the fast-footed Andrus hit a slow bouncer that hugged the line and Hughes, playing third base in the majors for only the fifth time in his career, tried to make a backhanded play.