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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Philip Humber and Chris Sale gave the Chicago White Sox exactly what the team needed after a lost weekend.
Humber pitched seven scoreless innings and Chicago beat the Minnesota Twins 2-1 Monday in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
Juan Pierre had three hits and scored a run for the White Sox, who survived a nervous ninth inning to end a four-game skid. With Minnesota having scored once in the bottom of the ninth, Sale, the team’s third pitcher of the inning, struck out Jason Repko with a man on first to end the game.
“It’s always good to go out there and get the job done and win,” Sale said.
It was the kind of win Chicago needed because the White Sox came to Target Field after a weekend sweep in Detroit that dropped them 8 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central with 25 games to play. During the four-game slide, Chicago starters posted a 12.50 ERA while failing to get past the fifth inning. The White Sox bullpen wasn’t much better with a 9.19 ERA in that time.
“We needed Phil to come out the way he did today just for the ballclub,” said manager Ozzie Guillen. “Besides the bullpen and the doubleheader, we needed this type of game to try to get it going and bring some kind of confidence. … To win this game after the last three days we have, and a fairly short night, and come back here and do it, hopefully those guys get some momentum going.”
Brian Dinkelman had a career-high three hits for the Twins, who have lost three straight and seven of 10. Luke Hughes had a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Humber (9-8) was making his first start since Aug. 18 when he was struck above the right eye by a line drive off the bat of Kosuke Fukudome. Despite no success with his curveball, he gave up six hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter. It was his first win since July 2.
In his previous six starts, the right-hander was 0-4 with a 7.16 ERA. Only three times did Minnesota get a man to second base against Humber — one of those was on a throwing error.
“It feels like a year since I’ve had a win. It was a great feeling to have some success,” said Humber. “It’s a lot more fun getting them out than it is struggling to hold them. Hopefully, I can build off this.”
Humber was hit on the thigh by a comebacker in the second inning, putting a brief scare in the dugout. He was also hit by a batted ball in a Triple-A rehab start last Tuesday.
“I must be pitching with my eyes closed the way I’m getting hit,” he joked. “I don’t know why I’m even carrying a glove out there because I’m not using it.”
Matt Thornton pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings, and closer Sergio Santos gave up a sacrifice fly to Luke Hughes in the ninth before Sale earned his sixth save in seven chances.
“Heck of an effort, had a chance to win, we just couldn’t come up with a hit,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Anthony Swarzak (3-6) took the loss, allowing seven hits and striking out four in a career-high tying eight innings.
Minnesota’s best threat against Humber came in the seventh when Danny Valencia led off with an infield single and moved to second two batters later on a bunt single by Hughes. However, Rene Rivera hit into an around-the-horn double-play to end the inning.
A.J. Pierzynski scored on a fielder’s choice in the second and Alexei Ramirez had an RBI double in the third for a 2-0 lead. In each inning, Chicago left a runner on third base.
“I gave up two runs in the second and the third. That’s never good. So I’ve got to do a better job of keeping them from scoring,” Swarzak said.
After Ramirez’s double, Swarzak retired 12 of 14 batters. The lone batters to reach — Alejandro De Aza and Pierre — were each thrown out by Rivera trying to steal second.
With so much uncertainty around the Twins staff, Swarzak hopes a strong September will make him a contender for Minnesota’s 2012 rotation. He’ll likely get five or six more chances with Nick Blackburn done for the season with a right lateral forearm strain, Francisco Liriano (left posterior shoulder strain) and Scott Baker (right flexor strain) on the disabled list and Brian Duensing day-to-day with a right oblique strain.
Dinkelman, recalled from Triple-A Rochester Sunday, started at second base for Minnesota. He’s been playing more outfield recently but he said infield is his natural position.
NOTES: Minnesota has lost 16 of 19 at home. … Chicago DH Adam Dunn, who had one at-bat since Aug. 27, was 0 for 3. He’s in an 0-for-16 slump. … Twins reliever Glen Perkins, out since Wednesday with an injured forearm was unavailable to pitch. … Chicago’s Zach Stewart (1-3) is scheduled to face Minnesota’s Scott Diamond (1-2) in the nightcap. Stewart is 0-1 with a 10.97 ERA in his last two starts. Diamond earned his first big-league win Wednesday by beating Chicago.
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