CHICAGO (AP) — Joe Mauer had three hits, drove in two runs and was flawless in his first game at first base as the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 6-2 on Thursday night.
Mauer, the 2009 AL MVP, had started 714 games in the major leagues in the field, all at catcher. He last played first base in 2002 in Class A.
In the bottom of the first, Mauer was immediately tested at his new position. He nabbed Omar Vizquel’s hard liner to start an unassisted double play. Then he scooped a grounder hit by Adam Dunn and stepped on first, accounting for all three outs in the inning.
Ben Revere also had three hits and two RBIs for the Twins, who beat Chicago for the eighth straight time.
Carl Pavano (6-6) allowed six hits and two runs over seven innings for Minnesota, which has won 27 of 33 overall against its AL Central rivals. He walked two and struck out four.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka had two hits and scored two runs for the Twins, who had 13 hits, including 12 singles.
Chicago right-hander Phil Humber (8-5) lasted 3 2-3 innings, allowing season-highs of 11 hits and six runs.
Mark Teahen hit his third homer for Chicago, a two-run shot in the fifth.
Minnesota has beaten Chicago all five times in their meetings this season and have won 13 of its last 15 games at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox have dropped four of five overall.
One of baseball’s biggest surprises this season, Humber had gone 6-1 with a 2.52 ERA over his last 10 starts, leading to cries that he should have made the AL All-Star team. He didn’t show that form Thursday, as the Twins jumped on him with an aggressive small-ball attack from the outset.
Minnesota broke on top in first when Revere singled, stole second, went to third on a fly to right and scored on Mauer’s single through the box.
The Twins tacked on two runs in second. Danny Valencia led off with a double, went to third on a groundout and scored on Nishioka’s single up the middle. Nishioka then stole second and scored on Revere’s single to center.
The singles attack against Humber continued in fourth, knocking him out of the game.
With one out, Nishioka, Drew Butera and Revere all singled, scoring the first run. Alexei Casilla struck out, but Mauer singled to right, scoring Butera. Paul Konerko took the throw in from right, then flipped toward Gordon Beckham, who was backing up first base, trying to catch Mauer napping. Instead, the ball rolled behind Beckham, allowing Revere to score and putting the Twins up 6-0.
Michael Cuddyer followed by lining a shot off Humber, reaching on the 10th single among Minnesota’s 11 hits to that point. He was the last batter Humber faced.
Rookie lefty Hector Santiago retired the first eight batters he faced and threw 4 1-3 scoreless innings.
Teahen got White Sox on board in the fifth with his homer to the opposite field, cutting the Twins’ lead to 6-2. Chicago could have gotten more if not for a couple of solid defensive plays by the Twins.
First, Mauer went to his knees to stop a grounder Vizquel, probably saving a run. Then Nishioka definitely saved a run, ending the inning with a diving snag of Konerko’s smash into the hole and a throw to a stretching Mauer at first.
Twins closer Matt Capps, who has struggled in recent outings, threw a perfect ninth in a non-save situation.
NOTES: Before the game, it was announced that Konerko had won MLB’s “final vote” and earned the last spot on the AL All-Star roster. Konerko received a loud ovation when he came to bat in the first inning. This will be his fifth All-Star appearance. Twins trainer Rick McWane said that an MRI on starter Scott Baker showed a mild flexor strain. As a precaution, Baker will skip his scheduled start on Sunday and will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break. He is undergoing treatment for the injury and isn’t being allowed to throw. McWane added that injured 1B Justin Morneau will start some light neck and wrist therapy. His activity level will be “ramped up” after the break. Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP, has been limited to 55 games because of wrist and neck injuries. He had surgery on June 29 to remove a herniated disk fragment from his neck. He’s expected to return to action sometime in August. Santiago had the longest scoreless relief outing for the White Sox since Tony Pena threw six shutout innings against Oakland on Sept. 20. Dunn went 0 for 4, striking out three times, the last against lefty reliever Glen Perkins. Dunn’s average dropped to .163. He’s struck out an AL-high 113 times this season and is 2 for 58 (.034) against lefties this season.
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