White Sox drop another close one to streaking Twins, conclude series Wednesday afternoon

CHICAGO (AP) — The Minnesota Twins have won nine games in a row.

Two-thirds of those wins have come at the expense of the Chicago White Sox.

Max Kepler drove in the tiebreaking run in the top of the ninth inning for the second straight game, this time with a sacrifice fly, and the Twins won their ninth in a row overall and sixth in a row this season over the White Sox, 6-5, on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

With last at-bat wins in the first two games of the series, the Twins can sweep the White Sox for the second consecutive time when the series concludes Wednesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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Minnesota swept a four-game series against Chicago in Minneapolis to start its winning streak.

The White Sox, meanwhile, swept the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game home series over the weekend, but Wednesday they’ll be looking to avoid bookending that sweep by getting swept twice by the same team.

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The White Sox dropped to 6-24 overall and 2-17 against the American League Central with Tuesday’s loss. After Wednesday’s finale concludes the homestand, Chicago opens a six-game road trip with a three-game weekend series against the Cardinals in St. Louis, starting Friday night.

Close losses

Despite their record and their futility against the Twins, the White Sox are playing better over the last week or so.

Their last five losses to the Twins have been by a combined nine runs, including three one-run losses. Chicago also came within an at-bat both Monday and Tuesday of extending that sweep over the Rays into a significant winning streak.

On Tuesday, the White Sox had 12 hits but went 2-for-11 with men in scoring position and stranded nine runners.

“I like what we are doing,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “I like the way we are playing. I like the energy. I like (that) this is an area where we have to grow. We have to find ways to win those ballgames.”

The Twins, meanwhile, extended their longest win streak since a 10-game run in June 2008. They also won their seventh in a row, dating back to last season, against the White Sox, though this one certainly wasn’t easy.

“Pretty tough bunch of guys,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I don’t feel like we’re one-dimensional or two-dimensional. I feel like we can win games in all the ways. … It’s fun to watch from the dugout right now.”

Chicago’s Andrew Benintendi homered leading off the eighth to tie it at 5-5 after Minnesota scored twice in the top half. But the Twins pulled it out in the ninth.

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Byron Buxton walked leading off against Michael Kopech (0-3) and took third on Manuel Margot’s one-out single. Kepler, who hit a tiebreaking single in Monday’s 3-2 win, then put Minnesota on top with a sacrifice fly to center.

Jhoan Duran pitched around a leadoff single by Tommy Pham in the bottom half of the inning and picked up the save after missing the Twins’ first 28 games because of a strained right oblique muscle. Caleb Thielbar (1-1) recorded the final two outs in the eighth.

“When we were struggling at the beginning of the year, you almost felt like we could never come back and win games like that,” said Carlos Correa, who hit an RBI single and scored in the eighth. “To be able to just bounce back, put some runs on the board, put some good at-bats together, play the way that we played — it shows a lot about where our confidence level is at, where we stand as a team, and … the resilience.”

The Twins didn’t get a hit until the fifth, when they scored twice and chased White Sox starter Michael Soroka.

Danny Mendick gave Chicago a 4-2 lead with a two-run homer against reliever Kody Funderburk in the fifth inning.

Ryan Jeffers swiped home for the Twins as part of a double steal in the sixth. Correa, in his second game back from a strained right rib cage muscle, hit an RBI single against Jordan Leasure in the eighth and scored on Trevor Larnach’s base hit to put Minnesota on top 5-4. But the Twins left the bases loaded when Kyle Farmer grounded into a force against Prelander Berroa.

Benintendi tied it when he led off against Cole Sands with his third homer. Mendick doubled, but Robbie Grossman struck out. Thielbar then retired Korey Lee on a pop fly and Nicky Lopez on a grounder.

Soroka gave up two runs and three hits in 4 1/3 innings. The right-hander has a 6.48 ERA through seven starts.

Minnesota’s Simeon Woods Richardson went 3 2/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and seven hits. The 23-year-old right-hander threw 81 pitches in his fourth career start and third this season.

Up next

The three-game series wraps up with RHP Bailey Ober (2-1, 4.21 ERA) pitching for Minnesota and RHP Chris Flexen (1-3, 5.11) getting the ball for Chicago. Ober has a 1.48 ERA in four starts since getting pounded in a loss at Kansas City on March 31. Flexen threw five scoreless innings in a win over Tampa Bay last week.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m.

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