Twins get just four hits, but use them well to win eighth straight

CHICAGO – Byron Buxton whipped a first-pitch slider down the left-field line in the ninth inning and thought about trying to stretch his double into a triple when he saw a wild incoming relay throw.

It was only the Twins' third hit Monday, so there was a natural urge to try to create more offense.

Instead, with no outs, Buxton trusted Max Kepler to step up. Kepler lined a two-strike single into right field against Chicago White Sox reliever John Brebbia, and Buxton scored easily from second base. Buxton clapped twice after he touched home plate before pointing to Kepler. Then more claps from Buxton as he walked toward the dugout.

The Twins didn't have the offensive explosion that defined the franchise's longest winning streak in 13 seasons, but they earned a grind-it-out 3-2 victory over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field for their eighth consecutive victory. It's the first time the Twins won eight consecutive games since June 11-21, 2011.

"It's kind of like the season started on a cold front offensively," Kepler said. "You just have to keep battling and have each other's backs, and stuff will go our way."

The Twins arrived at their Chicago hotel around 1 a.m. Monday following their three-game sweep in Anaheim. Starting pitcher Joe Ryan said, "legs were definitely a little heavy from the travel last night."

After they extended their winning streak, the Twins turned their clubhouse into a nightclub with players dancing to hip-hop music that pulsed through the room.

"The vibes are good," said Ryan, who allowed two runs in six innings "Feeling good, feeling loose but I think just staying focused."

The Twins managed only two hits against White Sox lefty Garrett Crochet, a pitcher they scored five runs against last week. One of the hits was a game-tying, two-run homer from Carlos Santana in the second inning, Santana's fourth home run in the past five games. Santana, who blasted a first-pitch slider over the wall in left field, was passed the Rally Sausage in front of the dugout as a reward.

Willi Castro reached on an infield single after Santana's homer, but Crochet put down the next 11 Twins batters in order with only one ball leaving the infield.

"Probably because he throws 100 [mph]," Buxton said when he was asked why the offense was quieted by Crochet.

BOXSCORE: Twins 3, White Sox 2

The Twins, hitless in their first five at-bats with a runner in scoring position, snapped their seven-game streak with at least 10 hits, the franchise's longest streak with a double-digit hit total since July 14-21, 2006.

Like the offense, nothing came easy for Ryan. He surrendered hits to his first three batters, including an RBI double to Andrew Vaughn on his eighth pitch. A run scored when he induced a double play against Eloy Jiménez and that seemingly helped him find his form.

Following the first three hits, Ryan didn't allow another runner to reach third base. He struck out a season-low three batters, but he consistently worked ahead and threw a first-pitch strike to 18 of his 23 batters.

"It was kind of a get in the weeds, kind of grimy game," manager Rocco Baldelli said.

Twins reliever Griffin Jax stranded two runners in the eighth inning, and Caleb Thielbar pitched around a one-out walk and a two-out single in the ninth inning to secure his third career save.

"Everyone is pulling their weight right now," Baldelli said. "When we bring [relievers] in, we anticipate zeros. That's not always a given in this game. It's not that easy to do. But right now you feel good almost about any move you make, any matchup you like."