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Twins offence struggles again in 7-2 loss to Rangers

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MINNEAPOLIS - Returning home from a five-game road trip wasn't enough for the Minnesota Twins to revive their offence in a 7-2 loss to the Texas Rangers on Monday.

Kevin Correia allowed four earned runs in seven innings for the Twins in their fourth straight loss since climbing two games over .500 on May 21.

"Another day where offensively we didn't get it done again," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Baseball does that. You go in cycles, hit some bloops, get some to fall in. Starting hitting them hard at people and you go into a little bit of a funk."

Trevor Plouffe homered and Eduardo Escobar had two hits and an RBI for the Twins, who have scored just eight runs in their previous five games.

Correia (2-6) set down nine straight before Rougned Odor and Shin-Soo Choo lined back-to-back two-out singles in the fifth. Elvis Andrus followed with a double to the gap in left-centre that scored both runners and broke a 2-all tie in the fifth inning.

After a rough April, Correia has a 5.48 ERA through five starts this month. He looked more comfortable on the mound on Monday, throwing 55 strikes on 90 pitches, compared to his most recent home start in a May 14 loss to the Boston Red Sox in which he allowed nine hits and lasted just four innings.

"We had a couple chances today, scored a couple runs early on and it didn't continue," Correia said. "All the bad two-out pitches we threw today, it was a situation where one pitch here or there and we're up instead of down. Those are important pitches you have to make."

Nick Tepesch (2-0) won his second consecutive start for the first time in his career. Andrus and Chris Gimenez each had two RBIs for the Rangers.

Gimenez made it 6-2 off a two-out, two-run double down the line in left off reliever Jared Burton, who allowed three hits and three earned runs in the eighth.

"The runs they scored were with two outs," Gardenhire said. "We just didn't finish off innings."

Minnesota had its opening day outfield back together for the first time since the first week of the season, but the Twins skipper issued caution on that immediately equating to more runs.

Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia were activated from the disabled list after Sunday's game and started alongside centre-fielder Aaron Hicks.

"Arcia came up, got plenty of pitches, was swinging well. Willingham's timing looks pretty decent," Gardenhire said. "It takes a little time, a little different pitching up here than down (in Triple-A)."

Though the Twins fortified the middle of their order, they received the bulk of their production on Monday from the bottom third of the lineup in Kurt Suzuki, Hicks and Eduardo Escobar. The trio combined for six of the Twins' nine hits on the afternoon.

Hicks, a career switch-hitter, informed Gardenhire before the game that he decided to only hit from the right side. The struggling prospect is hitting .250 right-handed compared to .149 from the left side.

He had two singles Monday.

Two replay reviews went against the Twins. Arcia slid into third after a botched play in the outfield in the first, but a review showed third-baseman Adrian Beltre tagging him before his foot reached the base.

Gardenhire challenged an out call at first on Willingham's dribbler down the line in the sixth, but the call stood.

NOTES: Hicks told Gardenhire before the game he had no confidence swinging from the left side. "He came to me this morning and said he wants to hit right-handed. So, obviously, when a guy has no confidence left-handed, you gotta do what you gotta do," Gardenhire said. ... This was Ron Washington's 1,186th game as Rangers manager, tied with Bobby Valentine for most in franchise history. ... Texas P Tanner Scheppers, out since April 18 with elbow inflammation, had his first rehab outing on Saturday with Double-A Frisco and will make three more with Triple-A Round Rock before being eligible to return on June 3. ... Choo hopes to return to left field on Tuesday after DHing the last two games with a sore left ankle. ... Phil Hughes (5-1, 3.15 ERA) will try for his fifth consecutive win on Tuesday against the Rangers' Yu Darvish (4-2, 2.35).

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