For the second straight game, the White Sox pitching staff was given an early three-run lead to protect. This time, Jose Quintana and three relievers wobbled, but they didn't fall down. Instead, they made a number of tough pitches to turn the tables on the Twins, and the insurance run that eluded the offense on Thursday night helped a little, too.
Solo homers by Jeff Keppinger and Adam Dunn gave Quintana a 4-1 lead entering the bottom of the third inning, and he went right to work jeopardizing it. He gave up a single to Doug Bernier and a walk to Brian Dozier to bring the heart of Minnesota's order to the plate.
Quintana survived Joe Mauer, who hit a laser liner to left for the first out. Quintana retired Justin Morneau on his own with a strikeout, but he plunked Josh Willingham to load the bases for Ryan Doumit. A lengthy batle ensued, with Doumit fouling off five pitches and working a full count on the eighth pitch. Quintana came at him with three fastballs, and Doumit fouled off each one. On the 12th, Quintana sprung a curve on the fastball-seeking Doumit, freezing him for strike three and ending the inning.
The late innings were more adventurous. Quintana gave up a "triple" to Wilkin Ramirez (a deep drive to left center that Dayan Viciedo misplayed on the warning track) to start the inning. He came back to strike out Clete Thomas and get Bernier to line out to shallow center. Brian Dozier was able to crack Quintana by driving a single through the middle, narrowing the lead to 4-2 and ending Quintana's night. In came Donnie Veal to face the "M&M Boys." He walked Mauer, then went to a full count on Morneau before throwing a beautiful breaking ball on 3-2 for the swinging strikeout.
A different pitcher took the mound in the eighth, but survived the same story. Nate Jones allowed a pair of singles to bring the tying run to the plate, but came back to get a strikeout, popout and groundout to strand the runners.
Addison Reed's inning was far easier by comparison. He allowed a two-out "infield single" to Mauer -- Dunn should've scooped Gordon Beckham's throw -- but he got Morneau to fly out to right for his 29th save.
Quintana picked up his seventh win, and avenged an earlier 5-2 defeat against Kevin Correia last Sunday with some help from the bats.
The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the first on a Mauer solo shot, but the Sox erased it in the top of the second. With two outs and runners on second and third, Dayan Viciedo -- who hadn't started since Aug. 9 due to a thumb injury -- muscled a single up the middle to score a pair, giving the Sox a lead.
Some sorely needed thunder showed up the next inning. Correia threw a cutter that broke back over the heart of the plate, and Keppinger crushed it well into the seats in left to extend the lead to 3-1. Two batters later, Adam Dunn smoked a liner that stayed up long enough to find the flower boxes in front of the right-field seats for another solo shot.
Those blasts ended a four-game homerless drought, and that stat alone doesn't paint the whole picture. While they racked up 47 hits over that stretch, 44 were singles (two doubles, one triple). The Sox matched that extra-base output tonight, with Viciedo adding a double to go along with the pair of round-trippers.
Minnesota's defense helped the Sox add to their cushion in the eighth. Keppinger and Alexei Ramirez hit back-to-back one-out singles, then moved up a base on a wild pitch. Dunn hit a grounder off the mound that caromed to the second baseman Dozier. Ramirez was off on contact, but Keppinger wasn't, so Dozier applied the tag for the second out.
That left runners on the corners for Paul Konerko, and Anthony Swarzak induced a weak grounder to the left side. Konerko ran hard all the way, and while third baseman Trevor Plouffe had time to plant and made a strong throw, he instead went the off-balance route and tried making a throw after his charging pickup, all in one motion. The throw pulled Morneau off the bag, Keppinger scored, and the Sox had the kind of insurance run they could have used Thursday.