Twins 6, White Sox 5, 11 innings
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The Minnesota Twins looked headed for another loss until their ultra-valuable bullpen got an early call.
After 7 2-3 innings of scoreless relief by his teammates, Jacque Jones completed the comeback with a solo homer off Billy Koch in the 11th inning to give the struggling Twins a 6-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
“We needed a win,” said manager Ron Gardenhire, who removed starter Joe Mays in a five-run fourth and then watched Juan Rincon, Johan Santana, LaTroy Hawkins and Eddie Guardado keep the White Sox from scoring while his team rallied from a 5-1 deficit.
“If we let it get any more than that, it was going to be over with,” Gardenhire said. “So we made a move a little early for the pitcher’s liking.”
Jones—who started the day in a 1-for-14 slump and was batting .222 in June—went 3-for-6 with three RBIs for the Twins, who had lost eight of 10 coming in.
Jose Valentin hit a three-run homer for the White Sox, who missed a chance to take the first two of this three-game series and trail Kansas City and Minnesota by 5 1/2 games in the AL Central.
Both teams wasted great chances in the final innings.
D’Angelo Jimenez singled off Johan Santana with one out in the Chicago ninth, and LaTroy Hawkins gave up singles to Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez— who went 2-for-2 after replacing Brian Daubach as the designated hitter—to load the bases.
But Hawkins struck out Carlos Lee and got Valentin on a popup to end the threat before striking out the side in the 10th.
“One of the nastiest pitches I’ve seen in a long time,” said Pierzynski, who took no offense to Gordon’s repeated fist pumps on his way to the dugout.
“Pump your fist all you want in that situation,” he said.
These rivals have traded their share of trash talk, brushbacks and beanballs over the past few seasons, but nobody expressed any concern about the displays of emotion by Gordon or Jones, who pumped his fists as he rounded first on his homer.
“That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Gardenhire said. “That’s part of the game.”
Guardado (1-2) pitched the 11th for the victory. Koch (2-4) gave up the homer to Jones, his 10th, with one out on a 1-0 sinker away that didn’t sink quite enough.
“It’s one game,” Koch said. “That’s the way the ball bounces.”
Mays, once dubbed “Cy Mays” by White Sox manager Jerry Manuel for his success against Chicago, retired the first nine batters he faced on 34 pitches before hitting big trouble in the fourth.
Daubach tied the game at 1 with a bases-loaded single, and Lee gave the White Sox the lead with a fielder’s choice grounder to short that he barely beat out to avoid a double play.
Then on a 3-2 pitch, Valentin—still batting just .229 this season—hit his 10th homer to put Chicago ahead 5-1.
Mays, in the second season of a four-year, $20 million contract, gave up six hits, five runs and a walk in 3 1-3 innings without a strikeout. Though he leads the Twins with eight wins, his ERA jumped to 5.77.
“I kind of lost my focus in the fourth inning, and that’s what cost me,” Mays said after a lengthy conversation with pitching coach Rick Anderson.
Rincon got the next 10 outs without allowing a run in relief, giving the Twins a chance to rally.
Torii Hunter, who drove in a run in the first with a sacrifice fly, reached on a two-base error in the fourth and scored on Pierzynski’s two-out bloop double that bounced over the head of Willie Harris in center field.
After Rivas safely made it home, Jones jumped up and down at second andclapped his hands.
Mays is 8-2 in his career against the White Sox, including two wins earlier this season. … Valentin’s homer was his first in 29 games since May 18, also at the Metrodome. … The Twins held their third annual African American Heritage Night, and the Timberwolves’ Kevin Garnett threw out theceremonial first pitch.