Sox score four in first inning, but lose to Twins in ninth
The Associated Press July 30, 2012 11:52PM
Chicago White Sox's A.J. Pierzynski watches his three-run home run during the first inning in a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Monday, July 30, 2012, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)
Updated: September 1, 2012 6:22AM
MINNEAPOLIS — Jamey Caroll’s sacrifice fly in the ninth inning scored Alexi Casilla and the Minnesota Twins won their fourth straight, beating the Chicago White Sox 7-6 Monday night.
Denard Span had two hits and two spectacular catches in center field for the Twins, and Danny Valencia added three hits and two RBIs.
A.J. Pierzynski homered in his first game after missing five with a strained oblique, and Alejandro De Aza returned from a wrist injury and matched a career high with four hits for the White Sox.
After Valencia led off the ninth with a single off reliever Brett Myers (0-1), Pierzynski’s throw to first after fielding Brian Dozier’s bunt sailed into right field, allowing each runner to move up.
Carroll followed with a fly ball to right, allowing Casilla to slide in with the winning run ahead of Alex Rios’ throw.
De Aza’s single in the eighth off reliever Jared Burton tied it 6-6 and was the first run scored on Burton since June 12.
The teams combined for nine hits and were tied 4-all after the first inning.
Chicago’s big inning was highlighted by Pierzynski’s three-run home run. Joe Mauer was one of four different Twins to drive in runs to tie it in the bottom half.
The Twins took a 6-4 lead in the third on an RBI single from Ryan Doumit and a sacrifice fly from Valencia.
With a runner on first and nobody out in the fifth, Rios drove a ball into the gap in left-center field. Span sprinted over, leaped against the wall, and took at least an extra base hit away from Rios.
Twins fans gave Span an extended standing ovation, eventually leading to the center fielder tipping his hat while still on the field.
Span earned another standing ovation after a diving catch to rob Pierzynski and end the seventh.
The Twins, who snapped a five-game skid against Chicago, lead the American League in scoring for July and have scored 96 runs in their last 14 home games.
Glen Perkins (2-1) pitched the ninth, striking out Pierzynski with Rios on first to end the inning. Pierzynski barked at home plate umpire Adrian Johnson on his way back to the dugout.
Liriano starts on Tuesday: Sitting in the visitors’ dugout at Target Field with a black hat on his head, left-hander Francisco Liriano felt so out of place.
“Everything feels weird,’’ Liriano said. “It’s just surprising.”
Two days after being traded from the Twins and a day before he faces them in his first game as a White Sox pitcher, Liriano was still trying to get his bearings. He was acquired by general manager Ken Williams to bolster the Sox’ starting rotation for the stretch run.
“I haven’t been thinking about it because I don’t want to get too excited, too nervous,’’ Liriano said. “I’m going to go out and do my job and help the team win some games.’’
Liriano said he was in shock when he learned about the trade by phone late Saturday night. He said more pressure comes with pitching for a contender, but “I’m not going to change anything.’’
A free agent after the season, Liriano also is pitching for a contract, something manager Robin Ventura sees — along with the jolt of being on a new team — as a plus.
“Hopefully we get the dominant left-handed pitcher like we’ve seen him be before,’’ catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “He has the ability to strike guys out. He has the ability to dominate lineups and shut down lefties completely. If we can get that out of him and give us five, six, seven innings every time out and just try to limit the walks, he can be a factor in this race and hopefully contribute a whole lot and help us get to where we want to go, which is the postseason.’’
— Sun-Times Media