If there were any lingering doubts Twins closer Joe Nathan could return to all-star form, he eradicated them with his shutdown performance Tuesday night against an explosive Texas Rangers lineup, just in time to clear space in the record book.

Nathan's next save will be his 255th as a Twin, which would move him past Rick Aguilera for most in team history. Catching Aguilera was a daunting task.

Inheriting a 9-8 lead after the Twins rallied for two runs in the top of the ninth, Nathan needed to get three outs against the Nos. 3-7 hitters. He allowed a leadoff single to Josh Hamilton, induced Michael Young to ground out, then hit Nelson Cruz with a pitch, putting two runners aboard.

Nathan was able to snap off several nasty sliders and curveballs in the dirt to retire Mitch Moreland and pinch-hitter Danny Murphy, who flailed away to end the game.

Since coming off the disabled list June 24, Nathan has allowed just two runs in 12-plus innings (1.46 earned-run average), with 10 strikeouts and no walks entering Wednesday's game.

"We're enjoying watching him," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "His confidence is way up. And that always makes a difference when the guy's throwing the ball."

Nathan, who ceded the closer's role he earned in spring training to Matt Capps before going on the DL, recognizes his place in club history.