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Chicago at Minnesota

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Chi. White Sox (64-68)000001000170
Minnesota (66-65) «00300001x4110

Twins down White Sox, gain ground in AL Central

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Chicago White Sox are wilting into September.

As for the Minnesota Twins, well, they still have some hope.

Home runs by Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel in the third inning lifted Nick Blackburn and the Twins to yet another Metrodome victory over the collapsing White Sox, 4-1 on Monday.

 Miller: White Sox trade Thome to Dodgers | Contreras dealt to Rockies

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."

Notes

  • 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.
 
Copyright 2014 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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AL MVP candidate Joe Mauer watches his 26th homer sail into the upper deck.  (AP)
AL MVP candidate Joe Mauer watches his 26th homer sail into the upper deck. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

J. Kubel
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Minnesota

N. Blackburn
IP 7.0
H 6
ER 1
BB 0
K 7
 
Chicago White Sox
Scott Podsednik, LF4000021 .294
Gordon Beckham, 3B4110001 .271
A.J. Pierzynski, C3021011 .315
Paul Konerko, 1B4010001 .278
Jim Thome, DH4000032 .249
Jermaine Dye, RF4010020 .262
Alex Rios, CF4000021 .254
Alexei Ramirez, SS3010000 .274
Jayson Nix, 2B3010001 .238
Totals33171010  
Batting
2B - Gordon Beckham (23, Blackburn)
SF - A.J. Pierzynski (2)
RBI - A.J. Pierzynski (39)
SB - Scott Podsednik (24, 2nd base off Blackburn/Mauer)
Team LOB - 6
Chicago White Sox
Gavin Floyd (L,10-9) 6933042 3.97
Tony Pena 1000000 4.42
Matt Thornton 0.2111020 2.58
Bobby Jenks 0.1100100 3.74
Pitches-Strikes - Gavin Floyd 106-68, Tony Pena 13-8, Matt Thornton 13-9, Bobby Jenks 15-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gavin Floyd 5-8, Tony Pena 3-0
Batters Faced - Gavin Floyd 26, Tony Pena 3, Matt Thornton 3, Bobby Jenks 3
Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, LF4020000 .310
Orlando Cabrera, SS4010010 .276
Joe Mauer, C4221012 .368
Justin Morneau, 1B4110011 .290
Jason Kubel, DH4122013 .303
Michael Cuddyer, RF4011011 .275
Brendan Harris, 3B3010100 .267
Carlos Gomez, CF4010004 .239
Alexi Casilla, 2B3000011 .194
Totals34411416  
Batting
HR - Joe Mauer (26, Floyd), Jason Kubel (22, Floyd)
RBI - Joe Mauer (80), Jason Kubel 2 (77), Michael Cuddyer (65)
2-OUT RBI - Joe Mauer (31), Jason Kubel 2 (30), Michael Cuddyer (21)
SB - Joe Mauer (4, 2nd base off Jenks/Pierzynski)
CS - Denard Span (8, 2nd base by Floyd/Pierzynski)
Team LOB - 7
Minnesota Twins
Nick Blackburn (W,9-9) 7611070 4.16
Jose Mijares (H,20) 0.2100010 2.10
Matt Guerrier (H,26) 0.1000000 2.29
Joe Nathan (S,35) 1000020 1.71
WP - Nick Blackburn (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Nick Blackburn 99-65, Jose Mijares 12-8, Matt Guerrier 7-4, Joe Nathan 11-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nick Blackburn 6-8, Jose Mijares 1-0, Joe Nathan 1-0
Batters Faced - Nick Blackburn 27, Jose Mijares 3, Matt Guerrier 1, Joe Nathan 3
Game Information
Attendance - 19426
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Jeff Nelson, First Base - Tim Tschida, Second Base - Bob Davidson, Third Base - Scott Barry