Getting back home has helped the Chicago White Sox put their recent struggles behind them.
Facing the AL-worst Minnesota Twins surely hasn’t hurt, either.
Seeking a 10th victory in 11 home games, the White Sox - winners of 14 of 18 in this series - try for a three-game sweep of the Twins on Wednesday.
Chicago (52-45) lost the final five games on its recently completed road trip, but has picked up the pace since returning to the South Side. After taking Monday’s series opener 7-4, the White Sox broke out in a big way Tuesday with an 11-4 win.
Adam Dunn hit a game-tying two-run homer - his major league-leading 30th - and Dayan Viciedo singled home two more runs to cap a four-run seventh-inning rally. Paul Konerko’s four hits included his 16th long ball for the White Sox, who went on to score five more runs in the eighth.
“He’s a monster right now,” Konerko said of Dunn, who has nearly tripled his home run total from a disastrous 2011 campaign. “I think he’s an even better hitter and better everything than he was even when he was having those great years before. I think his best is ahead of him.”
Tuesday’s result, along with Detroit’s 3-2 loss at Cleveland, moved Chicago into a first-place tie with the Tigers in the AL Central. The White Sox are batting .318 while outscoring opponents 68-34 during their 9-1 stretch at home.
They now turn to Jake Peavy (7-7, 3.22 ERA), who has lost both his starts since the All-Star break. After allowing six runs and a career-high 12 hits over seven-plus innings during a 6-3 loss at Kansas City on July 14, Peavy was outdueled by Justin Verlander in Friday’s 4-2 defeat at Detroit.
The right-hander allowed four runs and eight hits over seven innings, dropping to 1-6 in his last seven outings.
Peavy has experienced mixed results against the Twins (40-57) since the start of last season, going 2-3 with a 4.25 ERA over five outings. While he didn’t allow a run in either of those wins, he compiled an 8.22 ERA in the three losses - two at home.
Peavy has held Josh Willingham hitless in 10 career at-bats, but he’ll still want to be wary of the slugging left fielder. Willingham provided all of Minnesota’s offense Tuesday with his 24th and 25th homers of the season.
Minnesota has lost 10 of 14 and will try to regroup behind Nick Blackburn (4-5, 7.46), who was superb his last time out following a brief stint in the minors. The right-hander was sent down July 4 after yielding four runs or more in 10 of his first 13 starts, but he allowed one run, seven hits and no walks over a season-high 6 2-3 innings Friday in a 2-1, 11-inning win at Kansas City.
“That was a great performance,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It was desperately needed by him, for him. He made it look effortless.
“It’s something he’s been working on. He said he was going to stay light on his front side and let the ball come out of his hand. He did it with all of his pitches - good changeup, good sinker and a good slider.”
Blackburn was anything but sharp during a 12-5 loss to Chicago on June 27, yielding six runs and nine hits over five innings.
While Blackburn has gone 4-1 with a 2.97 ERA during his last five starts at U.S. Cellular Field, he’s allowed five runs in two of his three most recent visits.
No player has more hits against Blackburn than A.J. Pierzynski, who’s gone 16 for 45 (.356) in their matchups. Pierzynski, however, will miss his second straight game Wednesday with a mild right oblique strain.