A.J. Homers In 9th, White Sox Beat Twins 4-3
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning and the Chicago White Sox held on to beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 Tuesday night.
After Alex Rios singled off Jeff Gray (5-1), Pierzynski hit a 0-2 pitch into the right field bleachers for his second homer in as many nights.
Matt Thornton (3-6) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the win.
Addison Reed allowed an RBI single to Denard Span in the bottom of the ninth, but still earned his 17th save in 20 chances.
Span had four hits for the Twins, whose win streak was snapped at four.
In his first start with the White Sox, Francisco Liriano, who was traded from Minnesota to Chicago late Saturday for infielder Eduardo Escobar and left-hander Pedro Hernandez, allowed two earned runs and four hits in six innings.
With his fastball regularly in the low-to-mid 90s and his slider and changeup staying away from Minnesota hitters, Liriano walked four and struck out eight, including Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham twice each.
Mauer was caught looking at an inside pitch with two runners in scoring position in the third, leading the All-Star catcher to exchange words with home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski.
Although the Twins were getting deep in the count, Liriano allowed just two hits through five innings before the Twins got to him for two runs in the sixth.
With one out, Darin Mastroianni hit a dribbler up the first base line and stole second and third. Walks to Mauer and Willingham loaded the bases for Justin Morneau, who hit a chopper to first base. Paul Konerko fielded the ball, but failed to step on the bag for the forceout and his throw home was wide of the plate, allowing Mastroianni to score.
Valencia followed with a single that was stopped by a diving Alexei Ramirez at shortstop, but he could not make a throw. Brian Dozier nearly hit a grand slam the next at-bat, but the ball was caught on the warning track by Dayan Viciedo in left field.
An RBI single by Ramirez scored Pierzynski to tie the game 2-2 in the seventh.
There was polite applause from the fans when Liriano’s name was announced and the crowd had no reaction when Liriano came out for the bottom of the first.
Liriano came in with a 50-52 record and 4.33 ERA in his career. But so much more was expected of the enigmatic left-hander, who went 12-3 in 2006 as a rookie with a 2.16 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 121 innings. However, he underwent reconstructive elbow surgery later that year and has been inconsistent since.
Liriano had a 9.45 ERA in six starts this year before being demoted to the bullpen in early May. After being put back in the rotation out of necessity late that month for the injury-plagued Twins, Liriano allowed three runs or less in eight of 11 starts while showing glimpses of his former dominance – including games with 10 and 15 strikeouts in July.
Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn allowed two earned runs and five hits in eight innings. Six days earlier against Chicago, Blackburn allowed eight earned runs on 10 hits over 4 1-3 innings in a losing effort.
It was just the second time in eight starts that Blackburn allowed fewer than four runs.
Rios scored on a sacrifice fly by Viciedo to give Chicago a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
NOTES: Chicago LHP John Danks is done for the season and is scheduled to have exploratory surgery Monday to find out what is causing his left shoulder strain. … After trading Liriano late Saturday night, the Twins let the non-waiver deadline pass Tuesday afternoon without another deal. GM Terry Ryan said he wasn’t really close, either, but that the inaction didn’t disappoint him. “I’d be more disappointed if we made a bad trade,” said Ryan, who focused his search on starting pitchers. … Minnesota’s Scott Diamond (9-4, 2.88 ERA) is scheduled to face Chicago’s Jake Peavy (8-7, 3.15) in Wednesday’s series finale.
(© 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)