Rios set up Twins pitching, and Dunn knocked it down. Both went 3-for-4, and both were dynamic 3-for-4's. Rios hit three scalded line drives, one for a triple. He also drew a walk, stole a base and scored three runs.
He was able to cross the plate thanks to the guy behind him. Dunn hit a pair of homers along with a double, walked, and drove in five.
And he answered some of the more unfair criticism by making sure these hits all count.
He struck first in the third inning, following up Rios' two-out single by battling Mike Pelfrey into a deep count, then sending the eighth pitch over the wall just left of center to tie the game at 2.
In the fifth, with the Sox leading 3-2 (courtesy of a Dayan Viciedo solo shot in the fourth), he came to the plate after a pair of singles by Alexei Ramirez and Rios. On the tenth pitch, he practically embedded the ball into the left-field wall. His resounding double drove in Ramirez. Three batters later, Viciedo got down for a curve and hit a deep-enough fly to score Rios, making it a 5-2 game.
That would be all the runs they needed, but Dylan Axelrod and Co. needed a cushion, given the number of jams they escaped. The Sox had it in them today. Jeff Keppinger drove in two when his smash down the line got past Eduardo Escobar's in-between backhand attempt for a double. That got them to the seven-run mark, and Dunn pushed them over the top in the eighth with another no-doubter into the bullpen in left, which drove in Rios yet again.
The run support was enough to get Axelrod his first win of the year, and he deserved the help, given the way the offense had stranded him in the past.
This was a classic Battle Axe game. He didn't have his curveball, so his kitchen-sink approach was severely limited. Still, he skirted disaster every time.
He fell behind 1-0 in the first, but considering the first three batters reached, he limited the damage. He gave up a solo shot to Escobar in the second, but stranded two runners afterward. The third inning started with two singles, but they didn't score. The fifth started with a hit batsman and a single, and no runs scored.
Axelrod allowed 11 baserunners over his 5⅓ innings, but they couldn't pull off the knockout punch. A calf cramp contributed just as much to Axelrod's exit, as he started hobbling around after his first pitch of the sixth. He got Escobar to flyout, but a walk to Pedro Florimon prompted Robin Ventura to go to the pen.
Matt Lindstrom didn't look particularly sharp. He gave up a stolen base, an RBI single, a double and an RBI groundout, which narrowed the Sox lead to 5-4. Ventura then called for Matt Thornton to face Justin Morneau with the tying run on second, and Thornton threw two fastballs up and in. Morneau couldn't hold up on his checked swing the first time, and his second checked swing bunted the ball into fair territory. Hector Gimenez sprung up from behind the plate and picked it up before it spun foul, getting an easy out at first to end the last Twins threat.
*Paul Konerko went 1-for-4 with an opposite-field single in his return to the lineup, although he still had some uncertain swings.
*Gimenez and Dewayne Wise bookended the lineup with 0-for-5 days. Gimenez struck out three times, including twice against the K-starved Pelfrey.
*The Sox played errorless ball for the first time in seven games. Dayan Viciedo had a slight judgment lapse when he threw to the cutoff man after fielding a convenient carom off the side wall, because he had a great shot at getting Joe Mauer at second. It didn't hurt too much. In the positive column, Wise made a nice catch in center.