|Minnesota (87-58) «||0||0||0||0||3||3||3||0||0||9||13||2|
|Chi. White Sox (79-66)||0||0||0||0||0||2||1||0||0||3||12||0|
Mauer had three hits, including a three-run homer, and the Twins took a commanding eight-game lead in the division with a 9-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
With 17 games left for both teams, Minnesota has basically secured the division barring an epic collapse. The Twins' magic number to win the Central is 10.
"It's great when you're winning. It's even better when different people are doing it every night," Mauer said. "That's what it takes to win. Tonight was my night but tomorrow could be someone else. That's how you win ballgames."
Twins starter Brian Duensing (9-2) pitched six innings, allowing two runs while scattering nine hits. He struck out four and walked one. The left-hander, who was promoted to the rotation in late July, is 6-1 as a starter.
The Twins have won 10 of 11 and have baseball's best record since the All-Star break at 41-16. They improved to 6-2 in Chicago.
Duensing and some of his teammates have started to keep track of the magic number.
"Some of us know it's there. I'm sure if you ask some guys they'll say they're not paying attention," he said. "When you're a starter and you don't throw for four days, you start thinking about that kind of stuff. We know where we're at right now. We just have to keep playing good baseball and get it done."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Duensing more than solidified a spot in the rotation.
"That's great! I guess I'll always know when I'm going to pitch," Duensing said. "That's a great compliment. Hopefully he sticks to it."
Mauer is 15 for 27 with four doubles and two home runs at US Cellular Field this season and is 30 for 66 overall for a .455 average against the White Sox.
"I like hitting here. I don't know what it is. It's a great place to hit. It's a great pitching staff. I just like hitting here for some reason," Mauer said.
Carlos Quentin hit a two-run homer in the sixth for the White Sox, who dropped to 5-12 against the Twins with one game left between the teams.
"We were really looking forward to making a move in this series and we find ourselves against the wall right now with two games down," said White Sox shortstop Omar Vizquel. "There is still some games left but as long we keep losing against the first-place team I don't think we will be making any moves."
White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (10-13) was tagged for six runs and nine hits. He struck out four and walked two.
With two outs in the fifth, Denard Span singled and stole second, Orlando Hudson followed with an infield single. Then on a 1-0 pitch, Mauer broke a scoreless tie with a three-run shot to right field. It was Mauer's ninth of the season.
Minnesota added insurance runs against Floyd in the sixth. Delmon Young had a sacrifice fly and J.J. Hardy added an RBI single to chase Floyd. Span followed with an infield roller down the third-base line to score Danny Valencia.
"We're swimming against the current and it's raining," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We're not going to give up. I know it's going to be very tough to accomplish what we want to accomplish, but in the meanwhile we don't have any choice, just keep fighting and go out there and continue what we're supposed to do and see what happens. You never know in this game."
After squandering several scoring opportunities in Tuesday's 9-3 loss, the White Sox loaded the bases with one out in the second and failed to scored. Vizquel hit a grounder to Valencia at third, who forced Paul Konerko at the plate and Gordon Beckham ended the inning by flying out to right. In the third, Duensing struck out Konerko with Juan Pierre on third to end the inning and Vizquel hit into an inning-ending double play in the fourth with runners on first and third.
"We've been struggling to get a hit when we really needed it with guys in scoring position and that really is hurting us." Vizquel said. "This team you can't really make any mistakes and you have to take advantage of the opportunities that they give you and we just didn't."
Manny Ramirez was 1 for 2 with two walks and Guillen insists he will play him daily.
"Manny will play every day because Jerry Reinsdorf is paying him a lot of money," he said before the game.
In 12 games, Ramirez is 10 for 37, all singles, and has not driven in a run.
|Joe Mauer is greeted at the plate by Denard Span and Orlando Hudson, the two he drives in with a three-run jack. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Denard Span, CF||4||1||2||1||0||0||0||.267|
|Orlando Hudson, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||2||3||.275|
|a- Nick Punto, PH-2B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.252|
|Joe Mauer, C||4||2||3||3||1||1||0||.330|
|Jason Kubel, RF||3||0||0||0||0||1||4||.254|
|Jason Repko, RF||1||1||0||0||1||1||0||.204|
|Michael Cuddyer, 1B||4||2||1||0||0||0||0||.272|
|Jim Thome, DH||3||1||2||2||1||1||0||.282|
|Trevor Plouffe, PR-DH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.125|
|Delmon Young, LF||2||0||0||1||1||0||1||.297|
|Danny Valencia, 3B||3||1||2||1||0||0||0||.333|
|J.J. Hardy, SS||4||0||2||1||0||1||1||.273|
|a-grounded out for Hudson in the 8th|
|2B - Danny Valencia (17, Floyd)|
|HR - Joe Mauer (9, Floyd)|
|SF - Delmon Young (9), Danny Valencia (3)|
|SH - Denard Span (9)|
|RBI - Denard Span (54), Joe Mauer 3 (74), Jim Thome 2 (56), Delmon Young (100), Danny Valencia (29), J.J. Hardy (37)|
|2-OUT RBI - Joe Mauer 3 (33)|
|SB - Denard Span (23, 2nd base off Floyd/Pierzynski)|
|PK - Delmon Young (2, Pena)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Valencia-Hudson-Cuddyer, Hardy-Hudson-Cuddyer, Valencia-Cuddyer|
|E - J.J. Hardy (10, Throwing), Nick Punto (6, Misplayed grounder)|
|Brian Duensing (W,9-2)||6||9||2||2||1||4||1||2.07|
|Pitches-Strikes - Brian Duensing 95-61, Matt Guerrier 16-13, Jon Rauch 10-5, Jose Mijares 12-8, Matt Capps 17-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brian Duensing 7-5, Matt Guerrier 2-0, Matt Capps 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Brian Duensing 26, Matt Guerrier 5, Jon Rauch 2, Jose Mijares 2, Matt Capps 4|
|Chicago White Sox|
|Juan Pierre, LF||5||0||3||0||0||1||0||.275|
|Alexei Ramirez, SS||5||1||1||0||0||0||3||.281|
|Alex Rios, CF||5||0||1||1||0||1||3||.288|
|Paul Konerko, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.323|
|Manny Ramirez, DH||2||1||1||0||2||0||0||.306|
|Carlos Quentin, RF||4||1||2||2||0||1||3||.239|
|A.J. Pierzynski, C||4||0||3||0||0||1||1||.270|
|Omar Vizquel, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||0||6||.283|
|Gordon Beckham, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.252|
|2B - Juan Pierre (18, Duensing)|
|3B - Alexei Ramirez (2, Guerrier)|
|HR - Carlos Quentin (25, Duensing)|
|RBI - Alex Rios (83), Carlos Quentin 2 (84)|
|2-OUT RBI - Alex Rios (33)|
|SB - Juan Pierre (56, 2nd base off Duensing/Mauer)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|DP - Floyd-Beckham-Konerko, Beckham-A. Ramirez-Konerko|
|Chicago White Sox|
|Gavin Floyd (L,10-13)||5.1||9||6||6||2||4||1||4.08|
|IBB - Mauer by Gavin Floyd|
|HBP - Cuddyer (by Gavin Floyd)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Gavin Floyd 95-62, Chris Sale 11-6, Sergio Santos 20-8, Tony Pena 32-22|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gavin Floyd 6-5, Chris Sale 1-0, Tony Pena 1-3|
|Batters Faced - Gavin Floyd 27, Chris Sale 3, Sergio Santos 4, Tony Pena 8|
|Attendance - 30063|
|Game Time - 3:04|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - Chris Guccione, First Base - Jerry Crawford, Second Base - Phil Cuzzi, Third Base - Brian O'Nora|