White Sox end embarrassing losing streak against Twins with 4-3 win
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org July 9, 2011 9:34PM
A.J. Pierzynski led off the ninth inning with this double, then scored the winning run. | David Banks~Getty Images
Updated: October 29, 2011 12:35AM
The Minnesota Twins might be a thorn in the their side, but they still get the White Sox’ respect.
‘‘They play good against us for a long time,’’ Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. ‘‘On paper, I’ll take my ballclub, but we don’t play good against them. I don’t think it’s psychological. We compete against them. Those guys just play the game right, and everything clicks for them when they play us.’’
Beating the Twins on Saturday took the same kind of approach from the Sox, who finally got the clutch hitting they’ve been missing.
Alexei Ramirez hit a two-out single in the ninth inning that scored A.J. Pierzynski from second for a 4-3 victory.
Pierzynski entered the game only an inning earlier behind the plate after catcher Ramon Castro broke his right hand on a passed ball with Mark Buehrle pitching. Pierzynski led off the ninth with a double but had to wait out fly balls by Gordon Beckham and Mark Teahen and a walk to Juan Pierre by reliever Jose Mijares (0-1) before Alex Burnett entered and pitched to Ramirez.
‘‘We got two-out hits,’’ Pierzynski said. ‘‘They’ve done it to us all year, and that’s how they’ve been beating us. Carlos [Quentin] got a huge one [in the eighth to tie the score at 3] off Joe Nathan, and Alexei got a huge one off Burnett.
‘‘That game had the same old feel of how we had lost a lot of games to these guys, and they played well. It was a great game.’’
It ended the Sox’ four-game losing streak and a nine-game losing streak to the Twins dating to last season. The Sox hadn’t beaten the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field since Aug. 11 last season.
‘‘Every time you lose and hear about it and read about it, it starts to fester,’’ Pierzynski said. ‘‘You almost try too hard, and it snowballs. But Mark pitched a great game.’’
It was one of Buehrle’s best of the season. The lefty went eight innings and allowed only four hits and one walk. He had eight strikeouts, a season high.
The Twins scored twice in the third after Brent Morel’s error and once in the eighth when Castro was charged with the passed ball, making all three runs unearned.
‘‘Everything was working for me, all four pitches,’’ said Buehrle, who last had eight strikeouts Aug. 8, 2008, against the Boston Red Sox. ‘‘I felt I could have gone back out there. I felt that strong.’’
The victory went to Jesse Crain (5-2), but achieving it in comeback style — after the Twins went ahead 3-2 in the eighth — was added satisfaction for the Sox.
‘‘Those two guys on the mound battled well,’’ Guillen said of Buehrle and Twins starter Brian Duensing, who worked seven innings and allowed two runs, including Ramirez’s home run in the first inning. ‘‘As a baseball fan, I love games like that. And finally we got the big hit. That’s why we won.
‘‘Obviously, it’s nice to beat them, but we have to beat them another nine times to take the weight off my shoulders.’’
A win today for the Sox (44-47)would mean a split of the series as baseball takes its midseason break. They’ll end the first half below .500 no matter the outcome, but a victory would help lift spirits after a disappointing three months.
‘‘Every time we win a game, it’s good,’’ Buehrle said. ‘‘Obviously, the way we’ve been playing, we haven’t been playing up to our capabilities. We say it every time, but hopefully this gets us over the hump. We’ve got one more game before the break. It’d be a nice little break to go in on a winning streak.’’