A much-needed victory their last time out and a pair of losses by the division leader allowed the Minnesota Twins to make up plenty of ground in the AL Central race.
The Twins have a chance to move into a tie for first place in the division as they continue their home series with the last-place Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.
After losing two straight contests to drop a three-game home set with Detroit over the weekend, Minnesota (79-65) beat Kansas City 7-2 in Tuesday’s series opener. That victory, coupled with Chicago being swept in a doubleheader by Toronto on Tuesday, moved the Twins within one game of the White Sox in the division.
A Minnesota victory and a fourth straight Chicago loss Wednesday would put the clubs in a tie atop the Central standings.
“Every win we can get right now is really important,” Tuesday’s winning pitcher Nick Blackburn said.
Denard Span and Brian Buscher each had three hits and Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer as Minnesota won for the fifth time in 16 games and improved to 2-2 on a brief six-game homestand before heading out on a 10-game road trip starting Friday at Baltimore.
“It’s just about having fun,” Minnesota reliever Jesse Crain said. “I think we kind of lost that. We were pressing a little too much.”
Morneau is batting .359 (33-for-92) with five home runs and 26 RBIs over his last 23 contests. He has five homers and 13 RBIs in 13 games against Kansas City in 2008.
Minnesota’s Kevin Slowey (11-9, 3.75 ERA) hopes for a more effective outing this time after allowing three runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 9-0 loss at Toronto on Thursday.
The right-hander, who had won his previous four decisions before the loss, is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in two career starts this season against Kansas City.
The Royals counter with Kyle Davies (6-6, 4.59) as he tries for a second straight victory. He allowed one run and three hits in five innings of a 9-6 win over Oakland on Thursday to snap his four-game losing streak.
The right-hander is 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA in five career starts versus Minnesota and allowed three runs in 2 1-3 innings of a 4-1 loss to Slowey and the Twins on Aug. 8.
Miguel Olivo homered and Jose Guillen had three hits and an RBI for Kansas City (61-82), which despite being well out of contention, does not plan to lay down with eight of its final 19 games against the White Sox and Twins.
The Royals and Twins meet in a three-game series to wrap up the season at the Metrodome starting Sept. 26.
“We all have a responsibility to not only try to plan for the future,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “But there’s a bigger responsibility for me to put the best team on the field every day.”
Guillen is 11-for-23 with six RBIs in his last six games.