The Minnesota Twins want to remember the jubilation of piling on one another as long as possible. Chicago can’t erase the memory fast enough.
Delmon Young capped a four-run ninth inning with a two-run single, lifting the Twins to a 7-6, come-from-behind victory over the White Sox.
The Twins won three of four games in the series to move within 1-1/2 games of the first-place White Sox. Detroit is also 1-1/2 games back.
“I think we all kinda felt that something good was going to happen,” said Minnesota shortstop J.J. Hardy.
With Chicago closer Bobby Jenks (1-2) on the mound, Orlando Hudson walked in a 10-pitch at-bat and Joe Mauer walked on four pitches. Jason Kubel had an RBI single to left-center to make it 6-4. Michael Cuddyer singled in a run and end Jenks’ day.
“I just didn’t have it. My cutter was coming back, the sinker wasn’t sinking,” said Jenks, who had converted 15 straight save opportunities. “The more we can eliminate days like that the better. It’s just frustrating that we had to lose that game. In a big series against these guys, every advantage we can we need to take it.”
Sergio Santos walked Jason Repko to load the bases before Young hit a single to right-center. Alex Rios’ throw to the infield rolled to the White Sox dugout for an error allowing Cuddyer to score and sending the Twins on the field to celebrate.
Brian Duensing (3-1), who could be in Minnesota’s rotation before long, allowed seven hits and one earned run in four innings to get the win. His ERA dropped to 1.67.
“I’ll do whatever they tell me to do and throw when they ask me to,” he said.
If Duensing joins the rotation, it would likely be in place of Nick Blackburn.
The right-hander was better than his past few starts for Minnesota, yet still allowed nine hits and four earned runs in five-plus innings. He also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.
Blackburn was 5-0 with a 2.65 ERA in May, but since then he is 1-7 with a 9.88 ERA and 11 home runs allowed. He is 5-2 with a 4.15 ERA at home this year, compared to 2-6 with a 10.02 ERA on the road. His 6.53 ERA is the third-highest in the majors among players with at least 11 starts, behind Baltimore’s Brad Bergesen (6.54) and the Angels’ Scott Kazmir (6.92).
“I don’t know how much longer they’re going to keep putting up with this stuff,” Blackburn said.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said no decision would be made right away.
Gordon Beckham had a career-high four hits and Carlos Quentin had a two-run double for Chicago, which is 17-20 against division foes. Minnesota is 23-13.
“If we don’t win against all the teams in our division, we’re done,” said Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen.
Chicago, which has lost three straight for the first time since a four-game slide April 15-18, got the leadoff man aboard in the third through sixth innings, scoring three of the four times. In the sixth, the White Sox scored four runs.
Rios and Paul Konerko singled before Quentin hit a two-run double to the base of the wall in right-center for a 4-3 lead. Ramon Castro and Beckham added RBI singles later in the inning. Beckham was 11 for 14 in the four-game series.
Freddy Garcia allowed three earned runs and a season-high 11 hits in six innings for Chicago. Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz each pitched one inning of scoreless relief, before Jenks’ struggles.
“He’s a great closer in this league, been an All-Star, it’s just one of those days,” Gardenhire said. “Closers have it where they miss the strike zone a little bit, and we were fortunate.”
Young’s two-run homer in the second gave the Twins a 2-0 lead. Beckham had an RBI single in the third, but Cuddyer’s RBI triple made it 3-1 in the home half of the inning.
Juan Pierre had an RBI groundout in the fifth to get Chicago within one.
NOTES: Each team had 16 hits. … Quentin left the game in the sixth inning with a bruised right hand. He said he’s day to day. … Hardy was 7 for 15 in the series. He had six hits in his eight games before the All-Star break. … Both team’s next 13 games are against opponents out of the playoff chase. Chicago faces Seattle and Oakland; Minnesota plays Cleveland, Baltimore, Kansas City and Seattle. … Putz’s scoreless outing was his 24th straight, tying him with Shingo Takatsu (2004) for longest streak in club history.