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Chi. White Sox (68-87) «0311120008160
Minnesota (75-79)000002001380

Rookie Owens lifts dominant Vazquez, ChiSox over Twins

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Chicago White Sox are surging into the season's final week, wondering why they didn't start sooner.

Rookie Jerry Owens went 5-for-6 with three RBI, the rest of the White Sox lineup followed his lead, and Javier Vazquez used the support for an easy 8-3 victory over the Twins on Saturday.

"Where was all this in the summer?" manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We're playing good baseball. Unfortunately, it's a little too late for that."

Indeed, the White Sox (68-87) have only a fourth-place finish to shoot for now. They began the day with a half-game edge over the Kansas City Royals in the fight to avoid the AL Central cellar. Well, if they win their last seven games and the Twins lose their last six, they would tie for third.

Vazquez (14-8) gave up only one hit over the first five innings. Jim Thome hit career home run No. 504, Darin Erstad hit one into the upper deck, and every Chicago starter reached base at least once. The White Sox had 16 hits, including three by Erstad.

"That's why you can't ever underestimate these guys and that lineup," Minnesota's Michael Cuddyer said.

Vazquez won his third straight start, breezing behind an early lead that reached 8-0 in the sixth. He surrendered a two-run homer to Jason Kubel in the bottom half, but finished seven innings with only four hits and two walks allowed. He struck out 11, giving him 57 in his last six starts.

"He's been throwing like that for a little while, and unfortunately we couldn't win more games," Guillen said. "We've just not played good enough for him to win more games."

Vazquez surpassed the 200-strikeout mark for the season, the first time he's done that since 2003, and lowered his ERA to 3.79. The White Sox extended his contract by three years through 2010 for $34.5 million, a move that has helped him focus and apparently succeed.

"I've always said that I feel comfortable with one team, because you know where you got to be," Vazquez said. "I have a lot of confidence right now."

The White Sox smashed balls all over the place against a pair of right-handers auditioning for spots next year in Minnesota's up-in-the-air rotation.

Scott Baker (9-9) lasted only two innings and left trailing 3-0 after allowing five hits and one walk with just one strikeout. Danny Richar ripped a single up the middle that glanced off the back of Baker's hand in the second. He finished the inning and had full range of motion, but manager Ron Gardenhire said he experienced some numbness and was removed for precautionary reasons.

Baker wasn't available after the game. He was traveling home to Louisiana to tend to a family issue.

Boof Bonser entered to start the third, and he was awful. Recently moved to the bullpen after a string of ugly starts, Bonser completed three innings and allowed three straight baserunners to begin the sixth.

He gave up eight hits, five runs and two walks while striking out three. Gardenhire was cranky after the game, and Bonser had was at least partially responsible for his mood.

"He just didn't get it done. Call it what you want. Guys go two weeks without pitching and do fine," Gardenhire said.

Bonser's last game was Sept. 10. This was his first career relief appearance after 47 starts.

"I haven't seen the field in a little while, but don't get me wrong: I would've loved to have thrown three zeros on the board, too," Bonser said. "I made some bad pitches, and they hit 'em. I made some good pitches, and they hit 'em. I guess it was the worst luck."

Thome was Bonser's first batter. He hit a high fly to right that sneaked inside the foul pole and a few feet over the wall, moving him into a tie with Eddie Murray for 22nd place on baseball's all-time list.

Notes

  • Thome moved up a notch on another career list, too, passing Jimmie Foxx for 18th place with his 1,453rd walk.
  • Kubel is batting .341 with 11 doubles, 11 walks, four homers and 19 RBI in his last 24 games.
  • White Sox 3B Andy Gonzalez left the game in the seventh with a cut on his right hand that required two stitches. The wound occurred when he tagged Brian Buscher as he slid into the base. Josh Fields will move from LF and take Gonzalez's place on Sunday.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Jerry Owens bangs out five hits in six at-bats and finishes with three RBI for the White Sox.  (AP)
Jerry Owens bangs out five hits in six at-bats and finishes with three RBI for the White Sox. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

J. Owens
AB 6
R 1
H 5
HR 0
RBI 3
Chicago

J. Vazquez
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 2
BB 2
K 11
 

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Chicago White Sox
Jerry Owens, CF6153000 .267
Josh Fields, LF2110201 .246
    Luis Terrero, RF1000010 .232
Jim Thome, DH4122123 .275
Paul Konerko, 1B4000116 .258
Darin Erstad, RF-LF5232000 .253
A.J. Pierzynski, C5120001 .261
Juan Uribe, SS4011014 .230
Danny Richar, 2B5220012 .236
Andy Gonzalez, 3B3000102 .186
    Alex Cintron, 3B1000010 .243
Totals40816857  
Batting
2B - A.J. Pierzynski (23, Bonser)
3B - Danny Richar (3, Bonser)
HR - Jim Thome (32, Bonser), Darin Erstad (4, Bonser)
SF - Juan Uribe (5)
SH - Josh Fields (6)
RBI - Jerry Owens 3 (17), Jim Thome 2 (92), Darin Erstad 2 (32), Juan Uribe (64)
SB - Jerry Owens (29, 2nd base off Baker/Heintz)
Team LOB - 12
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Josh Fields 1
Chicago White Sox
Javier Vazquez (W,14-8) 75222111 3.79
Boone Logan 2311030 4.84
Pitches-Strikes - Javier Vazquez 119-75, Boone Logan 33-27
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Javier Vazquez 5-4, Boone Logan 3-0
Batters Faced - Javier Vazquez 27, Boone Logan 9
Minnesota Twins
Jason Tyner, LF4110000 .288
Jason Kubel, DH4112030 .268
Torii Hunter, CF4010020 .290
    Lew Ford, CF0000000 .235
Justin Morneau, 1B3010110 .273
Michael Cuddyer, RF4100013 .273
Brian Buscher, 3B4010021 .262
Chris Heintz, C4010011 .235
Luis Rodriguez, 2B3021110 .227
Nick Punto, SS4000034 .212
Totals34383214  
Batting
2B - Brian Buscher (1, Vazquez)
HR - Jason Kubel (13, Vazquez)
RBI - Jason Kubel 2 (63), Luis Rodriguez (12)
2-OUT RBI - Luis Rodriguez (6)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Punto-Rodriguez-Morneau
Minnesota Twins
Scott Baker (L,9-9) 2533110 4.29
Boof Bonser 3855232 5.09
Julio DePaula 2200210 7.94
Glen Perkins 1100000 3.33
Juan Rincon 1000020 5.31
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Baker 40-24, Boof Bonser 74-46, Julio DePaula 38-23, Glen Perkins 10-7, Juan Rincon 14-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Baker 2-2, Boof Bonser 4-2, Julio DePaula 5-0, Glen Perkins 2-1
Batters Faced - Scott Baker 11, Boof Bonser 19, Julio DePaula 10, Glen Perkins 4, Juan Rincon 3
Game Information
Attendance - 31737
Game Time - 2:57
Temperature - 68
Umpires - Home - Jim Reynolds, First Base - Brian Knight, Second Base - Lance Barksdale, Third Base - Tim Welke