CHICAGO - Minnesota Twins pitcher Scott Diamond felt his stomach drop after his throwing error on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.
Diamond thought the misplay might cost his team the game, but he and the Twins recovered to record a 5-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
With the score tied 1-1, Diamond fielded a bunt by Chicago White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza to lead off the sixth inning. His hurried throw to first wound up in foul territory and De Aza cruised to third with no outs.
After a sacrifice fly knocked him in to give Chicago a 2-1 lead, Diamond got the next three hitters.
The Twins responded with a four-run seventh inning highlighted by Josh Willingham's three-run double.
"I really thought I blew that one," Diamond said, after his teammates paved the way for his first win of the season. "It had come down to one play and I thought I'd just ruined it for the whole six innings (I pitched). Willingham's come up big for me (before). He's that guy that we rely on and he came up big again."
Minnesota (8-7) has won four games in a row, while the White Sox (7-11) have dropped three straight.
Aaron Hicks came up with a one-out RBI single that started the decisive seventh-inning rally. He stole second and, after a single by Jamey Carroll and a Joe Mauer walk, Willingham cleared the bases with a hard-hit liner to center.
That all happened against Chicago's bullpen, which had a rough two-game set against the Twins this weekend.
The Twins, on the other hand, couldn't be more pleased with their relievers - who again were strong on Sunday. Closer Glen Perkins picked up his second save in as many days with a scoreless ninth, and now Minnesota heads back home for a short two-game series against the Miami Marlins.
"It's only two games," cautioned Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "If this was August and we had a lead on these guys, I would love it. But it's early and we've seen a lot of things happen in this ballpark. We've had some success and we've also gotten whacked here pretty good."
The White Sox were the ones feeling the sting after squandering strong outings by Jake Peavy on Saturday and Gavin Floyd on Sunday.
Floyd pitched five scoreless innings before yielding a run in the sixth, his last inning of work. But even in that frame he wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam by allowing just one run to score.
"It's a bittersweet thing," Floyd said. "You're happy that you threw well, but unhappy that we lost. But we just put it behind us and work on the next start."
Chicago has now dropped three games in a row and lost 11 of the last 16 since starting the season with back-to-back wins. The Sox, who fell to last place in the American League Central, now prepare to host the Cleveland Indians - the team that just passed them by a half game in the division.
"Any time you have a stretch where you're losing it's always tough," Floyd said. "As a baseball player, when things aren't going the way you want ... you put it behind you and keep moving on. We're just going to go after Cleveland (on Monday)."
The White Sox did get a solo home run by struggling slugger Adam Dunn to lead off the seventh and make it 5-3 Minnesota. But Twins reliever Josh Roenicke retired the next three hitters, and Chicago didn't score again. It was a big hit for Dunn, who'd gone hitless in his previous 31 at bats, but he also struck out on three pitches to end the game.
Dunn's struggles thus far have mirrored his team's offensive issues. The White Sox are last in the American League in batting average with runners-in-scoring position. They are 2-7 in games they score two runs or less, and 32 of their 61 runs scored have come by way of the home run.
"Sooner or later, you've got to get it together and piece together some (big) innings," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "Today at least we were doing some small stuff, but it's got to be extended. You've got to extend those innings and get more out of it than we were getting."
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 Gardenhire wanted to give him a day off. ... Mauer went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks and had a 10-game hitting streak snapped.