MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Chris Sale won again, pitching seven easy innings with support from a three-run homer by Adam Dunn, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 12-5 Wednesday.
The American League’s leader in earned run average, Sale (9-2) struck out five and walked one with six hits and two runs allowed.
Dunn had three hits and four RBIs along with his 24th home run of the season, and newly-acquired Kevin Youkilis went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs. Alex Rios also had three hits and a homer, and the White Sox collected a season-high 21 hits.
Nick Blackburn (4-5) watched his ERA balloon to 7.74 after five rough innings for the Twins. He gave up nine hits and six runs.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura gave regulars Paul Konerko, Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo a rest, but an offense that managed only 13 runs over the previous five games finally had a breakout game. Dunn ended a 0-for-24 skid with his homer, and the White Sox posted a double-digit score for the first time in 16 games. Sale pitched that one, too, on June 9 against Houston.
First baseman Justin Morneau, now 7 for 73 against left-handers this season with 22 strikeouts, talked his way into the lineup by telling manager Ron Gardenhire before the game he wanted “a piece of this kid,” but a seventh-inning single was the only dent he put on yet another stellar performance by the lefty Sale.
Brian Dozier homered and Ben Revere tacked on a sacrifice fly, but that was the only damage done against the 23-year-old 2010 first-round draft pick. In seven starts on the road this season, Sale is 5-0 with a 2.91 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 46 1-3 innings.
Blackburn was actually 4-0 over his previous six starts, two before he strained his left quadriceps muscle and four after, but he hadn’t been that effective. In 12 turns this season, he has only one quality appearance of six innings or more and three runs or fewer.
The right-hander escaped the first inning without a run for just the fourth time in 2012, but Alex Rios doubled and scored in the second. Youkilis drove in a run with a double in the third, and Dunn broke the game open and snapped out of his slump with one big swing in the fifth.
With two on and two out, Dunn sent a 1-1 pitch by Blackburn to the opposite field that bounced off the facade between the first and second decks. Then Rios hit one to the same area in left to stretch the lead to 6-0.
The Twins have allowed 100 home runs this year, including 73 by their starters. Both totals are the most in the majors.
The Twins have played a lot better in June than they did the first two months of the season, but they haven’t been able to climb out of last place or start any long winning streaks. This game felt more like one of their awful April performances.
Ryan Doumit wandered too far off second base during a pitch in the third inning that skipped away from catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who made the first of four throws to catch Doumit in a rundown. Denard Span hit his head on the center field wall trying to catch a triple by Pierzynski in the seventh. Then Morneau tried to move up on a pitch that sailed past Pierzynski in the seventh, but the ball bounced straight back and Pierzynski threw out his former teammate at second.
Damon Mastroianni hit his first career home run, a two-run shot against Will Ohman in the eighth inning, for the Twins.
NOTES: The Twins have lost eight of their last 10 games against the White Sox at home. … The White Sox start a four-game series in New York on Thursday, with RHP Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 5.54 ERA) making his third start this season against Yankees RHP Ivan Nova (9-2, 4.25). … The Twins are off on Thursday before four games in three days here against Kansas City. LHP Brian Duensing (1-3, 3.82) pitches on Friday, with RHP Luis Mendoza (2-4, 4.95) taking the mound for the Royals.
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