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Five home runs, including two by Julien, power Twins past White Sox

It was a sleepy afternoon game against a historically bad opponent, a home run-derby-style finale to a four-game sweep that was only briefly in doubt.

But for Simeon Woods Richardson, the Twins' 6-3 Twins victory over the White Sox on Thursday at Target Field was something much more memorable: a gateway, finally, to the major leagues.

Edouard Julien homered twice, Ryan Jeffers, Carlos Santana and Jose Miranda once apiece, and the Twins moved within two games of .500 by handing the White Sox their 22nd loss in their first 25 games — the second-most in major league history. Only the 1-24 Orioles of 1988 were worse, and only the 2003 Tigers and 2022 Reds, each 3-22, could match such a terrible start.

Woods Richardson was the beneficiary of Chicago's lucklessness, giving up seven hits over five innings, but only two runs. He struck out six, walked only one, and retired the final four hitters he faced.

Then he did something even more momentous, from a career standpoint: He boarded a flight with the Twins to Anaheim, Calif., where a six-day road trip begins on Friday. Three previous times since he was acquired in the José Berríos trade with Toronto in 2021, Woods Richardson started a game for the Twins, and three times he was immediately sent back to the minors.

This time, however, he is almost certainly a full-fledged Twin and a member of the starting rotation, at least for as long as his pitching warrants it.

"Long time coming. A lot of blood, sweat and tears over the years. But yeah, [there's] a sense of humbleness, thankfulness [and] gratitude," said Woods Richardson, who was drafted by the Mets six years ago. "But now I get back to work. We're still trying to get better, we're still trying to learn, we're still trying to ask questions from all these guys and try to be a better pitcher."

He has started two Twins wins this year, though, so he's plenty good enough for manager Rocco Baldelli.

"He's pitching great. He's coming on the trip and he's going to very likely keep pitching good, the way he's throwing the ball right now," said Baldelli, who bestowed the opportunity on the rookie by dispatching Louie Varland and his 9.18 ERA to Class AAA St. Paul. "I'm planning on him pitching good and keeping that spot in the rotation."

It was bumpy a couple times, with the White Sox loading the bases in both the second and fourth innings. Chicago scored single runs in both innings, but Woods Richardson worked out of the second inning with back-to-back strikeouts and then fielded a weak comebacker to end the fourth.

"I didn't feel like I had everything, but that's OK. You're going to have games like that," Woods Richardson said. "What you can piece together with what you've got, that's kind of where I was at and just trying to compete."

BOXSCORE: Twins 6, White Sox 3

Meanwhile, his teammates put up only two singles over five innings against Chicago righthander Michael Soroka. But Julien and Jeffers bashed back-to-back pitches into the seats to open the sixth inning, tying the score and chasing the starter.

The White Sox bullpen, which had already given up seven runs in 11 innings during the series, then gave up four more runs the rest of the way. Tanner Banks gave up three consecutive singles, with Willi Castro's liner to left driving in Trevor Larnach with the go-ahead run. Julien homered again in the seventh, this time to the opposite field off John Brebbia. Santana hit his first homer of the season off Steven Wilson in the eighth, and Miranda followed two pitches later with his second. Chicago scored an unearned run in the ninth inning, but Griffin Jax pitched out of a bases-loaded jam for his fourth save.

Now the Twins spend the weekend in California, while Woods Richardson prepares for the first back-to-back start of his major league career: a rematch with the White Sox on Tuesday in Chicago.