Chicago at Minnesota

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Chi. White Sox (64-69)000010020360
Minnesota (67-65) «0000111014100

Morales' ninth-inning single lifts Twins over White Sox

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jose Morales might have discovered a stunningly simple secret to success as a pinch hitter.

"A full mind is an empty bat," Morales said with a smile.

Morales' pinch-hit single scored Nick Punto with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Minnesota Twins to a 4-3 victory against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.

The Twins' third catcher was recalled on Saturday and had not had an at-bat in the big leagues since July 11. But he looked as if he were never gone when he roped a single to right-center field and immediately raised his arm as his teammates stormed out of the dugout.

"I actually just take it like a regular at-bat," said Morales, who is 4 for 10 as a pinch hitter this year. "I put too much pressure on myself when I start thinking too much."

Manager Ron Gardenhire didn't have too many options when he sent Morales to pinch hit for Alexi Casilla. But he has plenty of confidence in the 26-year-old after former manager Tom Kelly called Morales "the most professional hitter" at Triple-A Rochester.

"I kind of take that to heart when T.K. says something like that," Gardenhire said. "So you have a lot of confidence because we've seen him do it up here so much."

Michael Cuddyer hit two homers and Jeff Manship was sharp in his first big league start for the Twins, who have won nine of 11 and remained 3½ games behind Detroit in the AL Central.

"We've played bad long enough this year," Gardenhire said. "It's time to play good."

Cuddyer tied his career high for homers in a season with 24 and continued his domination of White Sox starter John Danks.

Cuddyer is hitting .481 (13 for 27) with four homers and 10 RBI in his career against Danks. He hit solo homers in the fifth inning to tie the game and in the seventh to give the Twins a 3-1 lead.

But the normally reliable duo of Jose Mijares and Matt Guerrier faltered in the eighth. Mijares walked Scott Podsednik to lead off the inning and Gordon Beckham followed with a two-run homer off Guerrier to tie the game 3-3.

Alexei Ramirez had a solo home run in the fifth for the White Sox, the only mistake Manship made on the night. He allowed four hits with two strikeouts and two walks in five solid innings.

"It's not easy," Beckham said. "But I think we're still fighting, we're working as hard as we can to win. It's just not working out. We can't find ways to win right now."

Danks allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings for Chicago, which has lost five in a row.

"I didn't make very good pitches to Cuddyer and he's a hitter, a guy that will hit those pitches a long way like he did tonight," Danks said. "I've got to get better in that regard."

Jon Rauch (2-0) pitched one inning to earn the victory.

The fact that Manship was on the hill in September against the division rival White Sox shows just how decimated the Twins' starting rotation has been by injury and inconsistency this season.

Francisco Liriano and Kevin Slowey are on the disabled list, and despite the patchwork job manager Ron Gardenhire has had to do with young arms, the Twins sent starter Glen Perkins to Triple-A Rochester after his stint on the disabled list because he has been unreliable in the rotation this season.

"Manship was super for us," Gardenhire said. "He controlled the game."

After losing their fourth straight game and eighth in the last nine on Monday night to fall six games behind Detroit in the AL Central race, the White Sox appeared to raise the white flag.

General manager Ken Williams traded two of the most respected veterans in the clubhouse after the loss to the Twins. Slugger Jim Thome went to the Los Angeles Dodgers and starter Jose Contreras to the Colorado Rockies.

"Everybody has to play better and pick it up a notch," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "But a white flag? No."

Notes

  • It was Cuddyer's fifth career two-homer game and third this season.
  • Podsednik made a wonderful diving catch on a gapper by Brendan Harris in the second inning.
  • Twins CF Denard Span hit his ninth triple this year, which is tied for the lead in the American League.
 
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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The only at-bat for Jose Morales (58) wins the game as he singles home Nick Punto in the ninth inning.  (AP)
The only at-bat for Jose Morales (58) wins the game as he singles home Nick Punto in the ninth inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

M. Cuddyer
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 2
Chicago

G. Beckham
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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Chicago White Sox
Scott Podsednik, CF3110201 .295
Gordon Beckham, 3B3112102 .272
A.J. Pierzynski, C4000013 .312
    Dewayne Wise, PR0000000 .200
    Ramon Castro, C0000000 .222
Paul Konerko, 1B4010002 .278
Jermaine Dye, DH4000012 .260
Carlos Quentin, LF4000012 .224
Chris Getz, 2B4010011 .267
Alex Rios, RF4000001 .252
Alexei Ramirez, SS4121000 .276
Totals3436334  
Batting
2B - Scott Podsednik (20, Manship)
HR - Gordon Beckham (9, Guerrier), Alexei Ramirez (15, Manship)
RBI - Gordon Beckham 2 (51), Alexei Ramirez (58)
SB - Scott Podsednik (25, 2nd base off Manship/Mauer)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Getz-A. Ramirez-Konerko, Beckham-Getz-Konerko
Chicago White Sox
John Danks 7633222 3.82
Octavio Dotel 0.2000000 3.29
Matt Thornton (L,6-3) 0.1211010 2.72
Tony Pena 0.2200010 4.37
Pitches-Strikes - John Danks 96-63, Octavio Dotel 8-6, Matt Thornton 12-8, Tony Pena 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Danks 7-10, Octavio Dotel 1-1
Batters Faced - John Danks 27, Octavio Dotel 2, Matt Thornton 3, Tony Pena 4
Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, CF-LF4110001 .310
Orlando Cabrera, SS2001100 .275
Joe Mauer, C4010001 .367
Justin Morneau, 1B3000122 .288
Jason Kubel, DH4010002 .302
    Nick Punto, PR-DH0100000 .213
Michael Cuddyer, RF4222002 .277
Brendan Harris, 3B4020011 .269
Delmon Young, LF3010000 .264
    Carlos Gomez, PR-CF1000012 .238
Alexi Casilla, 2B3010001 .196
   a- Jose Morales, PH1011000 .353
Totals33410424  
a-singled for Casilla in the 9th
Batting
3B - Denard Span (9, Danks)
HR - Michael Cuddyer 2 (24, Danks, Danks)
SF - Orlando Cabrera (8)
RBI - Orlando Cabrera (55), Michael Cuddyer 2 (67), Jose Morales (5)
2-OUT RBI - Jose Morales (3)
Team LOB - 6
Minnesota Twins
Jeff Manship 5411221 3.75
Jesse Crain 2000000 5.97
Jose Mijares0011100 2.28
Matt Guerrier (BS,3) 1111021 2.39
Jon Rauch (W,4-2) 1100000 3.99
WP - Matt Guerrier 2 (5)
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Manship 80-48, Jesse Crain 20-13, Jose Mijares 4-0, Matt Guerrier 16-11, Jon Rauch 24-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Manship 8-5, Jesse Crain 4-2, Jon Rauch 2-1
Batters Faced - Jeff Manship 21, Jesse Crain 6, Jose Mijares 1, Matt Guerrier 5, Jon Rauch 4
Game Information
Attendance - 22599
Game Time - 2:45
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Tim Tschida, First Base - Bob Davidson, Second Base - Scott Barry, Third Base - Jeff Nelson