Morneau's bases-clearing double capped a five-run fifth inning and helped the Twins rally from four runs down to beat the Chicago White Sox 6-5 Tuesday night.
"I enjoy being up there in that situation," Morneau said. "To be in that spot, the more I get up there, the more comfortable I feel."
The Twins moved within a half-game of Chicago, which has been atop the AL Central since May 17. Minnesota can jump into first place for the first time since May 14 with a win in the third game of this four-game series Wednesday night.
With the Twins closing in, the White Sox remain focused.
"We'll let you do that, talk about who's two back and who's up on who, because with this many games left you just have to go out there and try to win every game," Chicago catcher Toby Hall said.
Given a 4-0 lead, Clayton Richard (0-1) was cruising in his second major league start until the fifth.
After Carlos Gomez drove in Minnesota's first run with an RBI single, Joe Mauer lined a shot off Richard's left leg. The ball bounced into foul territory and Brendan Harris scored from third, leaving the bases loaded for Morneau's three-run double.
Mauer singled home Gomez in the seventh for a key insurance run.
"We blooped a couple here and there and then got that big one to clear the bases," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
After Minnesota took the lead in the fifth, starter Glen Perkins (8-3) held Chicago scoreless in the sixth and four Minnesota relievers preserved the win.
"That's a typical Minnesota Twins baseball game," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Twenty-five bloopers and a big blast. That's the way they play."
"I felt as soon as I made contact, 'Man that felt good coming off,' and next thing you know I have an eighth of a bat in my hand," Swisher said.
Richard, a former backup quarterback at Michigan, is replacing the injured Jose Contreras in the White Sox rotation. The 24-year-old lefty has showed flashes of brilliance in his two major league starts, but hasn't made anyone forget Contreras.
"I liked what I saw. He's going to be back out there next outing," Guillen said. "He's got a lot of guts. He goes after people."
Contreras could be back by early August to help a pitching staff that has posted a 6.32 ERA in its last 13 games.
Perkins was far from dominant, but pitched well enough to improve to 6-1 in his last 11 starts. He allowed four runs and seven hits over six innings.
Perkins said the key to the Twins' recent success has been their ability to hang around games long enough to allow guys to deliver key base hits.
"That's what we do," Perkins said. "We stay close enough within striking distance, get some key hits, take the lead and then turn it over to our bullpen."
However, the news wasn't all good for the Twins. Second baseman Alexi Casilla will land on the disabled list with a tear in his right thumb ligament. Casilla will see a doctor on Wednesday to determine the extent of the injury and how long he will be out.
Adam Everett will be activated from the disabled list to replace Casilla. Everett's 20-day rehab assignment from a shoulder injury ended Tuesday, and the Twins originally asked the veteran shortstop if he would accept a demotion to Triple-A Rochester. With Casilla now out indefinitely, Everett will be kept on the big league club.
- Guillen said he doesn't expect the team to make any trades before the deadline. He said getting players like Contreras, Joe Crede and Scott Linebrink off the DL will seem like a trade.
- Everett is hitting .189 in 25 games for the Twins this season.
- Guillen said he needs to talk to the slumping Paul Konerko before deciding to bench him. "My question is, if I bench Paulie, who will play first?" Guillen asked. One option is moving Swisher to first, but Guillen did not sound confident in anyone being able to replace Swisher in CF.
- The Twins are hitting .348 with the bases loaded this season, the best in baseball.