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Hicks leads Twins' win with glove, bat

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota Twins rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks began erasing memories of his poor start to the season by leading the Twins to a 10-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Monday at Target Field.

Hicks hit two solo home runs and robbed White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn of a homer in the best game of his young career.

"That catch was spectacular in a big situation like that," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was definitely in ear-to-ear smile. That was fun. We've all been watching him fight through an awful lot. We've been patient and waiting for some big moments out of this kid. We know it's in there, we know he can play. Tonight, hopefully it's a good start."

Minnesota lefty Pedro Hernandez, who had a rocky start, found his groove and lasted 5 1/3 innings.

Hernandez (2-0) threw 31 pitches in the first inning but settled down in the second, when he made only six pitches. At one point, he set down 10 straight batters. He gave up three runs on six hits with four strikeouts and no walks.

"The first inning, I wasn't hitting my spots," Hernandez said. "After that I tried to locate my pitches down low, got in the flow of the game, and went from there."

The White Sox got to Hernandez in the sixth. Alejandro De Aza hit his second single of the game, moved to third on Alexei Ramirez's double and scored on an Alex Rios groundout, cutting the Twins' lead to 5-3.

With Ramirez on third, Dunn hit a long fly ball, and Hicks ran straight back to the center field wall and leaped at the last moment to pull back a certain home run for the third out.

"When the ball is struck like that, you don't know," Hicks said. "You just have to break back and do the best you can. It hung up for me and I made the catch."

Hicks followed it up in the bottom half of the inning with a blast of his own to center for his second home run of the game. He increased his season (and career) homer total to three, and he raised his batting average to .152.

"Right after the catch I felt amazing, I felt loose," Hicks said. "To hit that one, it just capped it off."

Both homers came off White Sox starter Hector Santiago, who started strong but ran into trouble in the fourth. Santiago (1-2) went 5 2/3 innings, giving up six runs (three earned) on eight hits and one walk. He struck out six.

"I had a couple pitches I could have thrown better and left a few pitches up in the zone," Santiago said. "It was one of those games. Make some pitches and try to get out of stuff, and it just went the opposite way on you."

The White Sox, who got to Hernandez early, ended up with 10 hits in the game. The Twins had 12, the last being Justin Morneau's bases-clearing double in the eighth inning for his third hit of the game.

The White Sox's first three batters of the game collected hits, leading to two runs.

De Aza and Ramirez singled, and Rios doubled, scoring De Aza and moving Ramirez to third. Dayan Viciedo scored Ramirez with a sacrifice fly.

The Twins came back in the third by also getting their first three batters on base: a double by Pedro Florimon, a Brian Dozier single and a Joe Mauer walk. Morneau hit a broken-back grounder past the pitcher that shortstop Ramirez couldn't handle, scoring Florimon. Ryan Doumit drove in Mauer with a sacrifice fly, and Trevor Plouffe knocked in two more with a double to center.

"It's one of those [plays] where we have to be better," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Ramirez's error. "We've got to work at it. It's one of those . . . Hector's grinding and he gets in a situation where you got to help him out. He gets the ball that he wants. There are lapses of knowing what's going on, and we'll work on it. It's one of those that we'll have plenty of time to work on it."

In the fourth inning, Hicks homered over the center field fence to extend the Twins' lead to 5-2.

NOTES: Twins pitchers took batting practice in preparation of interleague play on the road in Atlanta and Milwaukee coming up. ... Minnesota began the night ranked third in baseball in team batting average with two strikes, hitting .213. Mauer is second individually in all of baseball in that category, hitting .326. ... The White Sox have been involved in 16 one-run games, which ties them with Arizona for most in the majors. They are 7-9 in those games... Twins outfielders have recorded 14 outfield assists, which is the most in baseball.
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