MINNEAPOLIS — Vladimir Guerrero represented the tying run when he stepped to plate to face closer Jon Rauch, and that wasn't even close to the scariest part of the ninth inning for the Minnesota Twins.
Denard Span collided with second baseman Orlando Hudson, whirling through the air while making a lunging catch in center field to preserve a 6-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Sunday night, leaving two vital cogs of Minnesota's lineup laying prone on the outfield grass.
The Twins gathered around both players and nearly 40,000 fans held their breath for several long moments until Span and Hudson were able to get up and walk off under their own power.
"I was definitely scared after we collided," said Span, who had two hits and an RBI. "It happened so fast that I didn't really realize what happened until I hit the ground."
Hudson's left arm hit Span's midsection, sending the center fielder spinning like a top. Hudson was taken for X-rays of his hand and wrist and declined comment. The team said it would not know the results until Monday.
Scott Baker (5-4) allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings for the Twins, who recorded just their second sweep of the season in eight tries. Jason Kubel added two hits and two RBIs.
Rangers starter Derek Holland (2-1) left with no outs in the second inning because of soreness in his left shoulder. Texas lost its fourth straight game and put slugger Nelson Cruz on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.
The Rangers were seven games over .500 just over a week ago, holding a surprising four-game lead in the AL West. But after getting swept by the Central-leading Twins, the Rangers have dropped six of their last seven and now trail Oakland by a half-game.
"We just haven't really clicked on all cylinders yet," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We're getting good pitching but we're not scoring runs. When we're scoring runs we're not picthing well. We just need to get both those things on the same page and I think we'll start rolling."
Michael Young had two doubles and an RBI for the Rangers, but Span was able to hold on to Guerrero's pop fly with two runners on in the ninth to end the game and give Rauch his 12th save in 14 tries.
"Those are scary things," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "When you're all out and going for the ball, we don't have pads on. You're pretty wide open, especially when you're going for the ball like that."
Trainers first visited Holland on the mound in the first inning, but the lefty remained in the game, giving up an RBI-double to Joe Mauer. He walked Delmon Young and J.J. Hardy to start the second inning, then gave up an RBI-single to Nick Punto.
Pitching coach Mike Maddux went out to see Holland again, and he motioned to the trainers to return to the mound. Holland left the game, shaking his head and throwing his hands up as he walked to the dugout and Matt Harrison was rushed into duty.
"I felt normal. They came out and asked me if I felt all right and I felt like everything was normal," said Holland, who will meet with team doctors in Texas on Monday. "It was just a little shoulder tightness and I'm going to find out what it is."
The Rangers loaded the bases with one out in the second inning only to see Baker strikeout Julio Borbon and get Elvis Andrus to groundout to third base to escape unscathed.
Guerrero's RBI-single and Josh Hamilton's sacrifice fly put two on the board for the Rangers in the third, but Harrison gave those right back in the bottom of the inning on a single by Kubel and a sacrifice fly from Delmon Young to make it 5-2.
The Rangers get a day off before three road games against the Chicago White Sox. They will have to get on track without Cruz, who is hitting .327 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs.
"Good pitching stops hitting," said manager Ron Washington, whose Rangers managed just seven runs in the series. "But the opportunities were there. We just didn't cash them in."
With Cruz out, Washington said Guerrero will get even more time in the outfield when the Rangers go on a nine-game interleague road trip starting June 11. "Vlad is going to play out there, but he's not going to play nine straight," he said. … Michael Young made a brilliant play at 3B in the sixth, backhanding a chopper from J.J. Hardy near the outfield grass and firing a one-hop strike to 1B to get the out.
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