White Sox-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

Just as they were when these teams last met about a month ago, the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox are battling to stay out of the AL Central basement.

These slumping division foes begin a three-game set Tuesday night with the Twins badly struggling at the plate and the White Sox looking to end their road woes.

Chicago was in last place and 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota after winning two of three at Target Field from May 13-15. That gap remains the same, as do their positions in the bottom half of the Central.

The Twins (30-36) have lost seven of 11 while averaging 2.6 runs and batting .177 with runners in scoring position. They were held to three hits for the third time in four games Sunday in a 5-2 loss to Detroit.

"It seems like a week goes by and we're hitting the cover off the ball, then we hit a little slump as a team," said Brian Dozier, who homered Sunday. "I think it's all about big hits, two-out hits. We've been leaving a lot of guys on base."

Justin Morneau has a team-high 38 RBIs but only four in his last 14 games. Even leading hitter Joe Mauer (.321) is 4 for 20 with no extra-base hits in the past six.

Ryan Doumit is in a 3-for-27 slump as is Josh Willingham, who should return after missing two games with a knee problem.

"It's just a matter of guys getting going," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

The White Sox (29-38) can't get going on the road, where they have dropped 12 of 14 and are an AL-worst 13-24. They've averaged 2.8 runs in the last 13 away from home but did avoid a four-game sweep to another last-place team Monday, beating Houston 4-2.

Chicago had lost four straight and 14 of 18 overall

"Obviously, we've been struggling and getting this one and avoiding the streak was big and hopefully we start a new win streak and win (Tuesday)," Jesse Crain said after tying a franchise record for relievers with his 27th straight scoreless appearance.

Dayan Viciedo's bases-loaded triple in the sixth inning was the difference, but he's 4 for 44 in his last 12 road games.

"It's just one of those that you hope gets him going a little bit because he's been missing out," manager Robin Ventura said.

Chicago hasn't won a series on the road since last month's visit to Minneapolis.

Adam Dunn homered three times in that set and is batting .343 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in his last nine games at Target Field. Dunn has five hits in his last 10 at-bats against Twins scheduled starter Mike Pelfrey (3-6, 6.12 ERA).

The right-hander is 0-3 in his past seven outings. Pelfrey, though, provided a second straight quality start Wednesday as he gave up three runs and struck out seven in a season-best seven innings of a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia.

Things didn't go as well against Chicago on May 15. He was tagged for five runs and eight hits - including homers by Dunn and Viciedo - in four-plus innings of a 9-4 loss.

Dylan Axelrod was the winner, giving up three runs in 5 1-3 innings, and opposes Pelfrey again Tuesday.

Axelrod (3-4, 4.26) is coming off seven days' rest, given extra time off after a dreadful outing last Monday. The third-year right-hander allowed six runs, four walks and eight hits - including three homers - over four-plus innings in a 10-6 victory over Toronto. Axelrod had a 2.66 ERA in his previous four outings.

Chicago has won six consecutive series at Target Field, going 15-4.

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