CHICAGO -- The Minnesota Twins are getting hot, and the last two games it's come at the expense of the rival Chicago White Sox.
Led by Josh Willingham's three-run double and a strong start by Scott Diamond, the Twins beat Chicago 5-3 on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field to take the first two games of the season series.
Dating back to early August 2011, the White Sox dominated head-to-head matchups against the Twins - a 180-degree turnaround from a stretch of nearly 40 games prior to that point Minnesota controlled. Now, the Twins (8-7) are off to a good start against the White Sox (7-11),
who've dropped 11 of the past 16 games after starting the season with two straight wins.
Gavin Floyd started for Chicago and pitched six solid innings, while Diamond was just as good through his six innings to earn the win.
Minnesota also won the bullpen battle by getting good outings from three relievers and a second-straight save by Glen Perkins.
Chicago's pen struggled, allowing a big four-running seventh inning highlighted by Willingham's big double that ultimately provided the winning margin.
Floyd got out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth with just one run allowed, which made it 1-1 heading into the bottom half of the inning.
Alejandro De Aza created a run in the Chicago sixth inning by getting a bunt single, advancing to third on Diamond's throwing error to lead off, an scoring on Jeff Keppinger's sacrifice fly.
That gave the White Sox a 2-1 lead, but the Twins took control in the seventh against the Chicago bullpen. Minnesota scored four runs on three hits and a pair of walks in the inning, with Willingham's clutch two-out double to center field driving in three.
Adam Dunn led off the White Sox half of the seventh with a solo home run to center to make it 5-3 Minnesota, but Twins reliever Josh Roenicke retired the next three hitters to get out of the inning. It was a big hit for Dunn, who'd gone hitless in his previous 31 at bats.
The White Sox again let a solid effort by their starting pitcher go bywithout picking up a win. Floyd went six innings and allowed just one run on three hits. He also walked three but struck out six -- allowing just one hit through the first five innings on the one-year anniversary of former Sox pitcher Phillip Humber's perfect game.
Even after running into trouble in the sixth and walking in the tying run with two outs, Floyd got out of it by striking out Ryan Doumit with the bases loaded to keep it 1-1.
Diamond was just as good in his six innings of work, striking out five and allowing two runs. Only one of the runs was earned, but the unearned run came as the result of his own throwing error in the sixth.
After lasting just 4 1/3 innings and allowing four runs against the New York Mets on April 13, Diamond gave the Twins a second quality start in a row. After having a bone chip removed from his elbow last December, the left-hander looked like he took another step forward in getting back to his pre-injury form.
NOTES: John Danks returned to Chicago for a meeting with White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider, coaches and general manager Rick Hahn to discuss how his surgically repaired shoulder is healing. Danks has been making starts in extended spring training, including his latest outing on Saturday, and could be nearing a minor league rehab assignment as the next step in the process. ... Dunn came into Sunday's game hitting just .098 and went 1-for-4 with a home run and three strikeouts, including one on three straight pitches to end the game. ... Minnesota's Chris Parmlee didn't play on Sunday after getting hit with a pitch in the elbow on Saturday. He was available to play, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to give him a day off. ...
Catcher Joe Mauer went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks and had a 10-game hitting streak snapped.