Kepler, Polanco homer as Twins stop White Sox

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CHICAGO — Max Kepler's home run bumped the right-field foul pole a few yards above the outfield fence, about as close as you can come to a simple foul ball.

Jorge Polanco's homer went farther but had just as unique a finish: It was caught. By Tyler Duffey. As he warmed up in the Twins' bullpen.

There are all kinds of ways to hit home runs, but they all count, and the Twins are happy their knock-'em-deep swings are coming back. After managing only one long ball in Detroit over the weekend, the Twins bashed eight in four games here, two in the finale, and they defeated the White Sox 7-2 at Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday night.

Kepler and Polanco went deep during Tuesday's loss, too, as did Josh Donaldson, a needed power boost as the injuries keep piling up in Minnesota. And while Donaldson didn't hit another on Wednesday, he delivered a two-out single that scored Polanco and Nelson Cruz, breaking what was a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning.

The support was a welcome trend for Michael Pineda, the righthander who had not pitched in two weeks after a disappointing return from the injured list. This time, he was far sharper than that five-runs-in-five-innings start at home against the White Sox, though manager Rocco Baldelli chose not to extend him past five innings again.

The Twins' six runs, though, marked only the third time they had scored more than four in a Pineda start, one of the reasons that the veteran righthander is only 3-5 with a 4.11 ERA this year.

Pineda allowed four hits in five innings, and while three of them were doubles, he twice worked out of trouble. The third time? A ground ball that deflected off Donaldson's glove allowed Billy Hamilton to score. But a double play — one of three turned by the Twins in the first seven innings — ended that threat.

In all, Pineda allowed four hits and only one run while striking out three and walking only one, the big right-hander's most effective, albeit short, start since May 26, before he began feeling tightness in his forearm.

The Twins had far more luck against Chicago right-hander Dylan Cease, putting runners in scoring position in four of his five innings. Kepler's solo homer, a pole-scraper to lead off the third inning, was the game's first run, and a two-out rally — a single by Polanco, a ground-rule double by Nelson Cruz and Donaldson's two-run single up the middle — gave the Twins the lead for good.

An inning later, the first two Twins went out quickly again, but they still managed to add to their lead. Andrelton Simmons hit a sinking liner to center for a single, Kepler drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, and Polanco, after working the count to 3-0, slugged a 95-mph sinker into the Twins' bullpen, where Duffey waited under it.

The Twins come home after a road trip that began with three losses in Detroit and two in the first three games in Chicago. They'll play four games against the Angels at Target Field, followed by three with the Tigers.