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Chicago at Minnesota

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Chi. White Sox (14-12)100110000390
Minnesota (13-14) «10020010x470

Morneau's clutch hit bails out Blackburn, lifts Twins over White Sox

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau came through with yet another clutch hit for the Minnesota Twins. The Chicago White Sox should have taken notes.

After giving themselves chance after chance to break a game open, the White Sox watched Morneau hit a two-out RBI double in the seventh inning to give Nick Blackburn and the Twins a 4-3 victory on Wednesday.

"I just said, 'I can't strike out looking and look silly again,"' said Morneau, being a bit hard on himself after his drive to deep left-center off a high, full-count pitch from Boone Logan scored Carlos Gomez and hung the loss on reliever Ehren Wasserman (0-1).

Morneau raised his average with runners in scoring position to .481 with 18 RBI in 27 at-bats.

"He's an RBI guy. That's what he does," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Gomez, who went 3-for-4, scored twice and reached on a bunt single to begin the inning, boasted that when he's on second or third base with Joe Mauer or Morneau batting he'll score 90 percent of the time.

Blackburn (2-1) wasn't sharp, but he lasted seven innings and made the right pitches at the right times. He allowed eight hits, three runs and two walks while striking out four and gave the Twins consecutive victories by starting pitchers for the first time in 18 days.

Chicago's Nick Swisher walked on four pitches to start the game and scored on Jim Thome's double, then delivered a two-out single in the fifth for a brief 3-2 lead.

That hit was the only success the Sox had with runners in scoring position, leaving them 1-for-8 for the afternoon and 5-for-45 in their last five games.

"Another day with our hitting," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It's not easy when they're not swinging the bat well to score some runs and put some pressure on them."

Chicago leads the league with 36 homers, but the team's batting average is a league-low .242.

"When our pitchers go out there and do a heck of a job for us, we have to score some more runs for them," Swisher said. "And it's going to come. ... We've had plenty of opportunities to win a lot of games, and that's one thing we're going to have to work on. I think the one thing that we might be doing is trying TOO hard, trying to get the big hit EVERY time."

After Blackburn departed, Dennys Reyes struck out Thome to start the eighth. Pat Neshek struck out Jermaine Dye and Carlos Quentin, who hit a solo homer in the fourth but slammed his bat down in disgust after the side-retiring whiff against the side-arming Neshek.

Joe Nathan earned his ninth save in nine attempts with a scoreless ninth, putting two men on with one out but getting pinch-hitter Pablo Ozuna to fly out and leaving Swisher looking at strike three to end it.

"We just have to find a way to get the hits and score some runs. It's tough to win the games when you only put up two or three runs a game," Guillen said.

Because of a doubleheader last Saturday, long reliever Nick Masset made just his second career start for Chicago. Guillen wasn't willing to use Mark Buehrle or John Danks on three days' rest, and he was quite pleased with Masset's fill-in performance.

He threw 66 pitches in four innings and was plenty wild, throwing over the heads of Jason Kubel and Brendan Harris before hitting Michael Cuddyer near the shoulder with one that got away in the third.

Masset -- who surrendered five hits and three runs -- struck out five to offset three walks. He fanned Kubel with runners on first and second to end both the first and third innings.

Blackburn was better, though. Pitching coach Rick Anderson visited the mound with two outs and two on in the seventh, and Blackburn promptly retired Orlando Cabrera on a fielder's choice grounder.

"Usually later in the game I will settle in a little bit better, so I think Gardy and Andy are starting to realize that," Blackburn said. "I think their faith is building in me."

Their confidence in Gomez is not quite there yet. He stole his league-leading 11th base in the fourth with two outs and Mauer batting, then came home when the throw got away and was called out at the plate.

Video replays appeared to show Gomez getting his foot in before catcher Toby Hall tagged his back, and Gardenhire argued for a bit with home plate umpire Tim Timmons. After the game, Gardenhire said he wasn't upset with the call, though. He was more worked up by the overeager Gomez, who said he saw a steal sign from the dugout.

Notes

  • RH Scott Baker ran hard and threw harder in a pregame throwing session in the bullpen without problems, so he'll make his scheduled start for Minnesota on Saturday. Baker has been fighting a mild groin strain.
  • Guillen gave 1B Paul Kornerko the game off, partly because of a sore hand he aggravated Tuesday night. The plan is to rest some of the veteran regulars on this six-game, all-artificial-turf road trip that moves to Toronto for the weekend, but Guillen said he didn't want to leave the lineup "naked" so he will limit that.
 
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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This two-out double in the seventh by Justin Morneau puts the Twins over the top.  (AP)
This two-out double in the seventh by Justin Morneau puts the Twins over the top. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

J. Morneau
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
Chicago

B. Anderson
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 0
 

Related Video

Chicago White Sox
Nick Swisher, 1B3111213 .226
Orlando Cabrera, SS4000004 .217
Jim Thome, DH4021010 .228
Jermaine Dye, RF4000021 .286
Carlos Quentin, LF4111020 .298
Joe Crede, 3B4000011 .258
Brian Anderson, CF4030010 .300
Juan Uribe, 2B2110001 .169
   a- A.J. Pierzynski, PH0000100 .310
Toby Hall, C3010002 .263
   b- Pablo Ozuna, PH1000002 .200
Totals3339338  
a-walked for Uribe in the 9th
b-flied out for Hall in the 9th
Batting
2B - Jim Thome (6, Blackburn), Juan Uribe (5, Blackburn)
HR - Carlos Quentin (7, Blackburn)
SH - Juan Uribe (2)
RBI - Nick Swisher (8), Jim Thome (19), Carlos Quentin (21)
2-OUT RBI - Nick Swisher (3), Carlos Quentin (9)
Team LOB - 7
Chicago White Sox
Nick Masset 4533350 4.50
Matt Thornton 2000040 3.75
Ehren Wassermann (L,0-1) 0.1111000 9.00
Boone Logan 0.2100110 3.97
Octavio Dotel 1000020 5.19
IBB - Cuddyer by Boone Logan
HBP - Cuddyer (by Nick Masset)
WP - Matt Thornton (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Nick Masset 66-37, Matt Thornton 29-20, Ehren Wassermann 2-2, Boone Logan 23-10, Octavio Dotel 10-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nick Masset 3-3, Matt Thornton 2-1, Ehren Wassermann 1-0, Boone Logan 1-0, Octavio Dotel 1-0
Batters Faced - Nick Masset 20, Matt Thornton 7, Ehren Wassermann 2, Boone Logan 4, Octavio Dotel 3
Minnesota Twins
Carlos Gomez, CF4231011 .265
Brendan Harris, 2B2001010 .287
Joe Mauer, C3000101 .295
Justin Morneau, 1B4021022 .268
Michael Cuddyer, RF2011100 .297
Jason Kubel, DH4000036 .237
Delmon Young, LF3100120 .265
Mike Lamb, 3B4000021 .203
Nick Punto, SS3110111 .256
Totals29474412  
Batting
2B - Carlos Gomez (6, Masset), Justin Morneau (4, Logan)
SH - Brendan Harris 2 (4)
RBI - Carlos Gomez (7), Brendan Harris (5), Justin Morneau (22), Michael Cuddyer (5)
2-OUT RBI - Justin Morneau (6), Michael Cuddyer (1)
SB - Carlos Gomez (11, off Masset/Hall)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Carlos Gomez 1
DP - Punto-Harris-Morneau
Minnesota Twins
Nick Blackburn (W,2-1) 7833241 3.52
Dennys Reyes (H,3) 0.1000010 0.00
Pat Neshek (H,6) 0.2000020 3.75
Joe Nathan (S,9) 1100110 0.82
Pitches-Strikes - Nick Blackburn 88-59, Dennys Reyes 4-3, Pat Neshek 7-6, Joe Nathan 16-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nick Blackburn 6-9
Batters Faced - Nick Blackburn 29, Dennys Reyes 1, Pat Neshek 2, Joe Nathan 5
Game Information
Attendance - 19137
Game Time - 2:37
Temperature - 69
Umpires - Home - Tim Timmons, First Base - Gary Cederstrom, Second Base - Field Culbreth, Third Base - Jim Reynolds