Twins 9, White Sox 2

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The Minnesota Twins appear to be regaining the form that carried them to the AL Central title last season. And they’re doing it against one of their biggest rivals.

Justin Morneau homered and drove in four runs and the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 9-2 Tuesday night for their third straight win.

Morneau went 3-for-4 and Jason Kubel added a two-run homer to complement another strong start from Boof Bonser. Michael Cuddyer and Luis Castillo each had three hits.

“We’re starting to turn it around,” Torii Hunter said. “All cylinders are clicking. Man, that’d be big if we can sweep tomorrow. You’re talking about the Chicago White Sox.”

Chicago’s struggling pitching staff has allowed 47 hits over the last three games. White Sox pitchers allowed a season-worst 16 hits for the second consecutive game, and walked seven.

“Pitching will dictate the game and the last two games the starters and relievers have done a real poor job,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Since we’ve been here, we’ve played real poorly. They’ve done the opposite. They’ve outplayed us right now.”

Minnesota (26-25) has won six of seven to move over .500 for the first time since May 9. It has won four straight series.

Morneau’s towering home run in the third clanked off the scoreboard in right field and gave Minnesota a 3-1 lead. Kubel hit a two-run drive to right-center later in the inning.

Morneau barely missed another homer in the fourth when his long fly ball hit high off the wall in right. He added a two-run double in the fifth, prompting the Metrodome crowd to begin a chant of “MVP! MVP!”

“It’s almost like he’s expected to hit a home run every time now,” Cuddyer said of the reigning AL MVP.

Perhaps just as promising as the Twins’ rediscovered offense is the emergence of Bonser as a legitimate No. 2 starter behind ace Johan Santana. Bonser (4-1) didn’t win his first game until his eighth start this season, but has since rattled off four in a row.

The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder entered the game third in the AL in strikeouts per nine innings and fanned six in 6 2-3 innings against Chicago, lowering his ERA to 3.61.

He left to a standing ovation in the sixth after loading the bases and walking in a run.

“The record part of it is overrated,” said Twins catcher Mike Redmond, who left in the eighth inning after being hit by a pitch in the left elbow. He should be OK. “To me, he’s been pretty consistent all year. It’s nice to score some runs for him. He deserves it.”

John Danks (3-5) lasted just 3 1-3 innings for the White Sox, allowing six runs and nine hits. Danks was 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his three previous starts. He earned his first major league win over the Twins on May 9, giving up one run and three hits in 6 2-3 innings.

“I don’t know what happened. That’s the only way to describe it,” Danks said. “I just stunk. Whenever I would get ahead in the count, I wasn’t able to throw the pitch I wanted to.”

Castillo has hit safely in 18 of his last 20 games and tallied his 1,500th career hit with a single in the sixth inning.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced after the game that the team will call up prospect Kevin Slowey to start Friday’s game against Oakland. Slowey is 6-2 with a 1.54 ERA for Triple-A Rochester. An official roster move will be made after Wednesday’s game.

Slowey replaces Ramon Ortiz, who was demoted to the bullpen after his last start and pitched a perfect ninth inning in his first relief appearance Tuesday.


Chicago’s Darin Erstad extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single to lead off the game. … Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of Castillo’s last error. Castillo’s major league record of errorless games at second base now stands at 138. … The Twins were retired in order for the first time the entire series in the seventh inning. … Chicago slugger Jermaine Dye had his 14-game hitting streak snapped.

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