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White Sox beat Rangers, acquire Francisco Liriano from Twins

MinnesotTwins v Chicago White Sox

Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox

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Updated: August 30, 2012 6:36AM

ARLINGTON, Texas — White Sox manager Robin Ventura had a difficult time talking about this one.

Not the Sox’ 5-2 victory Saturday night against the Texas Rangers, their fifth in a row that widened their lead to 2½ games over the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central, but parting with rookie infielder Eduardo Escobar in a trade to the Minnesota Twins for left-handed starter Francisco Liriano.

“You do everything you possibly can to make us better pitching-wise,’’ Ventura said. “But it’s tough after a good win like this because Escobar is a big part of what we’re doing. It’s more than numbers and how he plays; it’s everybody living together a long time. It’s a tough one team-wise.

“He’s kind of like the little brother or a son. He’s taking it hard. It’s part of baseball. It happens to a lot of people. But it will make us better.’’

General manager Ken Williams, who came up short in his effort to get Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers, settled for Liriano, whose credentials pale in comparison but figures to bolster the rotation nonetheless. The Sox also dealt minor-league lefty Pedro Hernandez.

“He’s been good, and that’s part of Kenny trying to find something to push us over the top,’’ Ventura said.

Liriano, 28, who pitched a no-hitter against the Sox last season, is 3-10 with a 5.31 ERA in 100 innings with 109 strikeouts in 22 games. He ranks third in the AL in strikeouts per nine innings with 9.81. He lost his last start on July 23 against the Sox, allowing seven runs in 22/3 innings after posting a 2.84 ERA with 77 strikeouts in his previous 10 outings.

Liriano was an All-Star as a rookie in 2006 and was the AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2010. He has two postseason appearances, including a start against the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the 2010 AL Division Series.

“We have been working the phones for weeks trying to make the team as strong and as resilient as possible for the stretch run,’’ Williams said. “Due to circumstances, we thought bringing in another starter was imperative to combat the two-month grind ahead and hopefully beyond. In talking to Liriano, he’s excited and motivated to get after it and join us for this run.’’

Escobar, 23, played shortstop for the Sox on Saturday. He batted .207 with three RBI in 36 games. Hernandez made his major-league debut for the Sox in a start in Boston on July 18, allowing eight runs and 12 hits in four innings. He was sent back to Class AAA Charlotte after the start.

The trade was announced after an extra-nice victory for the Sox.

Paul Konerko hit his 17th homer and Adam Dunn his major-league-best 31st against Rangers All-Star Matt Harrison (12-6). Escobar, starting in place of sore-wristed Alexei Ramirez, had two doubles and an RBI. And Jordan Danks, filling in for the other sore-wristed Sox player, Alejandro De Aza, singled and scored and made a very good running catch near the wall in left-center. Dunn’s homer was his 11th against a lefty. Last season, he hit 11 total against righties and lefties.

But the most significant highlight was the strong outing from Philip Humber, who bounced back from a rough game against the Tigers by holding the Rangers to one run and four hits in six innings. Humber (5-5) struck out four and walked two.

“[Humber] was great,’’ Ventura said.

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