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White Sox 6, Twins 2: Late-inning offense makes for an easy ending

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Jeff Samardzija goes seven strong innings and receives plenty of support in the second half of the game

Too late, Paul.
Too late, Paul.
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

In the top of the first inning, Melky Cabrera and Alexei Ramirez both had shots with the bases loaded, and nobody scored.

In the bottom of the first inning, Jeff Samardzija allowed a solo shot to Eddie Rosario to trail 1-0.

In other words, this game was White Sox as hell.

For whatever reason, the last eight innings looked decidedly un-White Sox, and everybody is healthier and more attractive for it. Jeff Samardzija pitched seven strong innings and the Sox added, and added, and added until they topped five runs for the first time since June 3. They actually carried the game out of save-situation territory, leaving Jake Petricka to pick up the calmest five-out save you'll see.

I don't know what happened, either.

OK, I know what happened in terms of the game. It hinged on Paul Molitor's decision to keep his starter in position for the win, and he was punished for chasing the stat.

With the game tied at 2, Mike Pelfrey faced the White Sox lineup a fourth time, and gave up a two-out single to Jose Abreu as he crossed the 100-pitch threshold. Molitor had lefty Aaron Thompson ready in the bullpen for Adam LaRoche (who entered the game 11-for-16 against Pelfrey over his career), but the Minnesota manager tried to get Pelfrey to finish the inning.

Pelfrey ended up walking LaRoche to push Abreu into scoring position, and even then, Molitor stuck with Pelfrey against Melky Cabrera. The Twins paid the price, as Cabrera shot a 1-0 pitch back through the middle to score Abreu and give the Sox a 3-2 lead.

The Sox tacked on to that lead with more two-out hits over the final three innings. Carlos Sanchez kept the eighth inning alive with a double down the right-field line off Casey Fien, and Adam Eaton scored him with a screaming liner high off the right-field wall for a double of his own.

In the ninth, Abreu led off with a single, then scored from first on LaRoche's single via Torii Hunter's comical error. He had to run to his left to cut off the ball, and he tried making a spinning throw in one motion to hold LaRoche to a single. But Hunter didn't get his body around enough, and his throw bounced into ... well, shallow center field. Abreu scored, LaRoche made it all the way to third, and, after Cabrera and Ramirez both failed to score LaRoche, Bench Player Gordon Beckham picked them up with a double to the left-field corner, giving the Sox a wholly unfamiliar four-run lead.

Petricka, who entered with one on and one out and a 4-2 lead in the eighth and escaped it with a flyout and a groundout, stayed on for the ninth and recorded three more groundouts on seven pitches to close it out.

Samardzija picked up his first victory in a month and a day, outlasting Pelfrey with seven strong innings. He allowed the two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out seven, with a fairly economical 105 pitches.

If the normal White Sox offense showed up, this start could've been a little more frustrating. Geovany Soto tied the game for him with an RBI single in the fourth inning, and Samardzija returned the lead to the Twins in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, he plunked Hunter on an 0-1 pitch. He then compounded that problem by fielding a Eduardo Nunez chopper near home plate that stood a better chance of going foul than being converted into an out. To top it off, he got ahead of Kurt Suzuki 0-2, only to give up an RBI double three pitches later.

Fortunately, a nice relay from Cabrera to Ramirez to Soto cut down the trailing runner Nunez at the plate to end the inning. After a three-error game the night before, the Sox posted a zero in that column, and actually had a couple more nice plays in them. Soto cut down Byron Buxton at second base to end the seventh, and Sanchez made a backhanded stab and jump-throw to retire Suzuki in the ninth.

Bullet points:

*Abreu raised his average to .300 with his first career four-hit game, including three singles through the right side. I've never understood why the Twins put three infielders on the left side of second, and Abreu exploited that easily.

*Eaton had three hits, and Cabrera and Soto both had two.

*Ramirez, who wasn't benched for his awful game on Monday, cleaned it up defensively tonight. Offensively, though, he was a wreck: 0-for-5 with a strikeout and seven stranded. The Twins broadcasting booth said they couldn't remember seeing him so feeble.

*The Sox stranded 11 runners, but in the good way (5-for-16 with runners in scoring position; 15 hits and three walks).

*Does anybody else think the Hunter HBP was suspicious?

Record: 31-39 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights