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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — White Sox rookie Zach Stewart took a perfect game into the eighth inning and finished with a one-hitter as Chicago completed a doubleheader sweep of the Minnesota Twins with a 4-0 victory on Monday night.
The Twins were 21 up and 21 down against Stewart until Danny Valencia’s leadoff double in the eighth spoiled the right-hander’s bid to become the 21st rookie in major league history to throw a no-hitter.
The White Sox won the afternoon game 2-1.
The 24-year-old Stewart (2-3), whose only previous major league win came at Target Field last month, struck out nine in the first complete game of his career.
This was only Stewart’s fifth start for the White Sox — and eighth of his career — after being traded to Chicago by Toronto on July 27.
With black curly hair flowing out from under the back of his cap and an intense expression on his face, Stewart made up for a rough start against the Twins last week in Chicago. He gave up seven hits and six runs in 4 2-3 innings that time.
After their long-shot chance of chasing down division-leading Detroit was chewed up during a three-game sweep by the Tigers over the weekend — by a combined score of 35-11 — the White Sox were able to put the discouragement behind them and have some fun. That came at the expense of their chief rival, the American League Central champions of the last two years.
The Twins fell to fifth place, behind the Kansas City Royals, for the first time since June 17. They are guaranteed to finish with a losing record for just the second time in 10 seasons under manager Ron Gardenhire.
Stewart dominated a lineup featuring only two regulars from opening day — Joe Mauer and Valencia. Mauer got good wood on the ball, sending an opposite-field fly to the warning track in the fourth inning and smashing a line drive that zipped straight to shortstop Alexei Ramirez to end the seventh.
Third baseman Brent Morel pitched in, too, making a slick pickup of a sharp one-hopper hit by Trevor Plouffe in the fourth and throwing over for the out. Morel also backhanded a hard grounder down the line by Drew Butera and snapped his body up to make a strong delivery to first.
But Stewart didn’t need much help. He worked quickly and enticed the Twins to swing at his first offering often, needing only 65 pitches to complete six innings. Valencia finally had him figured out, though. He hit a hard liner that hooked foul and bounced into the seats behind third base before delivering a sharp drive to right field that skipped away from defensive replacement Alejandro De Aza for a sure double.
Valencia saw eight pitches in that at-bat and fouled off three straight before straightening one out on a 2-2 fastball. But Stewart shrugged that off and retired the last six batters he faced, striking out three.
Morel drove in two runs with a seventh-inning single, and Alex Rios had three hits for the White Sox. Twins starter Scott Diamond (1-3) gave up eight hits, two walks and two runs in five innings.
Philip Humber set the tone in the matinee by pitching seven scoreless innings to snap a four-game losing streak. Chris Sale struck out Jason Repko with a man on first base to end the game.
The third-place White Sox are eight games behind the Tigers.
During their four-game slide, the starters posted a 12.50 ERA while failing to get past the fifth inning each time.
Humber (9-8) was making his first start since Aug. 18 when he was struck above the right eye by a line drive off the bat of Kosuke Fukudome. Despite no success with his curveball, he gave up six hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter. It was his first win since July 2.
Anthony Swarzak (3-6) took the loss for the Twins in the opener, allowing seven hits and striking out four in a career-high-tying eight innings.
NOTES: The Twins have lost 17 of 20 at home. … LHP Jake Peavy (6-7) pitches for the White Sox on Tuesday night against RHP Liam Hendriks of the Twins. Hendriks will make his major league debut. Peavy is 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA in his last four starts. … Stewart was acquired from the Blue Jays with reliever Jason Frasor in exchange for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen.
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