MINNEAPOLIS -- The Chicago White Sox are wilting into September.
As for the Minnesota Twins, well, they still have some hope.
The Twins crept within 3½ games of first-place Detroit in the AL Central, leaving the White Sox six games back. Minnesota has won 15 of 17 against Chicago in its soon-to-be-vacated domed home.
"There's a completely different feel around ... our clubhouse," Kubel said. "I think everybody's pretty excited about the way it's going right now."
The White Sox have lost eight of nine overall. They have been so bad on this road trip that manager Ozzie Guillen joked over the weekend he was stealing money from owner Jerry Reinsdorf. About an hour after the game, right before the deadline to finalize postseason rosters, the Sox essentially waved their white flag by trading veterans Jim Thome and Jose Contreras.
Thome's 23 homers and 74 RBI went with cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league infielder Justin Fuller. Contreras was sent to Colorado for a Triple-A pitcher.
"It seems like we can't get anything going. It seems like a dead team," Guillen said. "Maybe because obviously when you're not hitting, the team looks dead. I don't see any energy."
Blackburn (9-9) matched his career high with seven strikeouts in seven strong innings, a big boost for his confidence and the team's struggling staff.
"He was pitching. He wasn't trying to throw too hard or anything like that," Mauer said. "Everything was nice and easy."
Joe Nathan's perfect ninth earned him his 35th save, delighting the crowd of only 19,426, the smallest since April 28, on a night when the Twins competed with the state fair and a national TV game for Brett Favre and the Vikings.
Those who chose baseball saw the home team's 10th win in its last 13 games, while the White Sox finished August at 11-17.
"Every game we can get is huge for us," Blackburn said. "Especially to beat these guys tonight. As long as we can keep putting them further behind us, the better it is."
After striking out looking in the first inning, Mauer crushed the first pitch from Gavin Floyd in his at-bat in the third into the upper deck for his 26th homer. The pitch was inside, precisely where Floyd wanted it. The right-hander said he didn't think anyone could have kept it fair, but Mauer sure did.
"He obviously knows how to hit," Floyd said.
Two batters later, Kubel's two-run shot made it 3-0. That was all Blackburn needed.
With the rotation decimated by injuries and a lack of minor league depth, the Twins are desperate for Blackburn to help stabilize the staff the way he did in the first half. As the deadline to finalize postseason rosters arrived without any more action by the front office, the Twins are taking a rotation with two rookies into the September stretch drive after recently acquiring Carl Pavano to support their best starter, Scott Baker.
The third inning was a good sign Blackburn had his swagger back.
With speedy Scott Podsednik at second base, the right-hander battled through a pesky at-bat by A.J. Pierzynski and struck out the scrappy catcher with a low fastball the stadium radar flashed at 93 mph. Pierzynski's sacrifice fly in the sixth was the only run Blackburn gave up. He allowed six hits without a walk.
Floyd (10-9) finished six innings. He has received two runs or less from the White Sox in 12 of his 27 starts, putting him in the bottom 10 in the league for support.
"Our offense has shut it down," Guillen said. "We picked the wrong road trip to struggle."
- Tests on White Sox RHP Jake Peavy's elbow showed no structural damage. He got hit there by a ball in a recent rehab start, and the elbow stiffened Sunday. Peavy said he was unable to play catch Monday.
- The Twins activated LHP Glen Perkins from the DL and optioned him to Triple-A. They're not yet counting on help from him or LHP Francisco Liriano, on the DL with arm fatigue. RHP Boof Bonser, out all season following shoulder surgery, could be back later in September.
- Chicago's Jim Thome struck out three times to tie Sammy Sosa for second place on the all-time list with 2,306. Reggie Jackson is the all-time leader with 2,597.
- Mauer stole his fourth base in the eighth. He wound up catching Pierzynski's throw in his hand after it glanced off second baseman Jayson Nix's glove and rolled down Mauer's arm.