MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nick Blackburn hadn’t lost all month for Minnesota. He hasn’t, though, been effective all season.
Chris Sale won again with seven easy innings Wednesday, Adam Dunn hit a three-run homer and the Chicago White Sox beat the Twins 12-5.
The American League’s leader in earned run average, Sale (9-2) struck out five and walked one with six hits and two runs allowed. But the lack of life the Twins had against him was hardly their biggest problem.
Blackburn (4-5) watched his ERA balloon to 7.74 after five rough innings. He gave up nine hits and six runs.
“I can’t begin to explain how frustrated I am right now,” Blackburn said, adding: “The guys are having to score seven or eight runs to get me a win right now. That’s not good.”
Blackburn was actually 4-0 over his previous six starts, two before he strained his left quadriceps muscle and four after. But in 12 turns this season, he has only one quality appearance of six innings or more and three runs or fewer.
The right-hander escaped the first inning without a run for just the fourth time in 2012, but Alex Rios doubled and scored in the second. Kevin Youkilis drove in a run with a double in the third, and Dunn broke the game open and snapped out of his slump with one big swing in the fifth.
With two on and two out, Dunn sent a 1-1 pitch by Blackburn to the opposite field that bounced off the facade between the first and second decks. Then Rios hit one to the same area in left to stretch the lead to 6-0.
“I’ve got to stop leaving the ball up. I feel like, right now, if it’s above the knees it’s going to leave the yard,” Blackburn said.
The Twins have allowed 100 home runs this year, including 73 by their starters. Both totals are the most in the majors. But it’s not as if they have a bunch of other options for replacing Blackburn in the rotation, and manager Ron Gardenhire didn’t sound overly concerned.
“This was a bad start for him today, but he’s battled better. We’ve liked what we’ve seen,” Gardenhire said.
Dunn had three hits and four RBIs, including his 24th home run of the season, and Youkilis went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs. Rios also had three hits and a homer, and the White Sox collected a season-high 21 hits.
First baseman Justin Morneau, now 7 for 73 against left-handers this season with 22 strikeouts, talked his way into the lineup by telling Gardenhire before the game he wanted “a piece of this kid,” but a seventh-inning single was the only dent he put on yet another stellar performance by the lefty Sale.
“He’s throwing the ball well. He’s got an ERA around 2.00 for a reason,” Morneau said.
Brian Dozier homered and Ben Revere tacked on a sacrifice fly, but that was the only damage done against the 23-year-old 2010 first-round draft pick. In seven starts on the road this season, Sale is 5-0 with a 2.91 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 46 1-3 innings.
The Twins have played a lot better in June than they did the first two months of the season, but they haven’t been able to climb out of last place or start any long winning streaks. This game felt more like one of their awful April performances.
Ryan Doumit wandered too far off second base during a pitch in the third inning that skipped away from catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who made the first of four throws to catch Doumit in a rundown. Denard Span hit his head on the center field wall trying to catch a triple by Pierzynski in the seventh. Then Morneau tried to move up on a pitch that sailed past Pierzynski in the seventh, but the ball bounced straight back and Pierzynski threw out his former teammate at second.
Damon Mastroianni hit his first career home run for the Twins, a two-run shot against Will Ohman in the eighth.
NOTES: The Twins have lost eight of their last 10 games to the White Sox at home. … The Twins need another starter for the second game of their day-night doubleheader on Saturday, and RH Cole De Vries is a strong candidate. De Vries made three starts earlier this season before being sent back to Triple-A Rochester. Gardenhire said the team won’t announce the decision until Friday. … This was the most hits the Twins have allowed since surrendering 27 at Texas on July 25, 2011.
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