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Quentin’s homers back Buehrle against Twins

August 5, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Had it not been for an error in the first inning, Mark Buehrle might have been able to toss a shutout Friday night at Target Field. Instead, he settled for a dominant victory over the Twins, his ninth win of the season.

Buehrle did not allow an earned run in his eight-inning outing, and right fielder Carlos Quentin blasted a pair of homers as the White Sox won, 5-3, over the Twins.

A fielding error by Adam Dunn at first base allowed Twins leadoff hitter Ben Revere to reach in the first, and a Joe Mauer single and Jason Kubel home run made it 3-1. But those would be all the runs the Twins would score, as Buehrle allowed just two hits the rest of the way with three strikeouts and no walks.

“I haven’t had much success on the road against these guys. I was lucky to get a win today,” Buehrle said. “The last couple games, I’ve been feeling good, but I’ve just been falling behind in the count a lot and getting the pitch count up. Today, I was attacking — strike one. They were putting the ball in play early in the count.”

Chicago snapped a six-game losing streak with the victory, while Buehrle allowed three runs or fewer for the 17th straight start, the longest streak by a White Sox pitcher since Dave Lemonds also went 17 in a row in 1972. Over that stretch, Buehrle has gone 8-3 with a 2.40 ERA, allowing just 31 earned runs in 116 1/3 innings.

Buehrle improved to 26-19 in his career against Minnesota, and he also has pitched at least six innings in each of his past seven starts.

“The ball moves a lot, especially against a lefty,” Revere said. “You never know if it’s going to come in or go away. And he’s quick. His tempo is quick. He’s a tough cookie. But that’s why he’s one of the best pitchers in the American League.”

Quentin hit his 22nd home run of the year in the third, a solo shot, and his 23rd home run in the fifth, scoring Dunn and putting the White Sox ahead for good.

With Paul Konerko still bothered by a calf injury after being hit by a pitch on Sunday, the big night for Quentin came at a great time and helped the White Sox end their losing streak.

“He got a big hit for us,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Quentin. “Everybody has to contribute a little bit without having [Konerko 100 percent]. I don’t know how [Konerko] is playing, he can’t even run the bases. … Everybody has to pick it up a notch and try to help.”

After not walking in four straight games, the White Sox walked seven times during Friday’s victory, with the most crucial being the one-out walk picked up by Dunn in the fifth just before Quentin’s two-run blast.

Twins starter Nick Blackburn was not sharp, as he allowed four runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, while walking six batters with just one strikeout.

Blackburn had been successful against the White Sox in the past, entering the game with a 9-5 record and 3.72 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) versus Chicago. This season, Blackburn was 3-0 with a 2.75 ERA over three starts against the White Sox before Friday’s loss.

Lately, though, Blackburn has struggled against everybody.

Since tossing eight shutout innings against the White Sox on June 16, Blackburn has gone 1-5 with a 7.45 ERA, allowing 46 runs (37 earned) on 69 hits over 44 2/3 innings.

“I’ve just been tinkering around the plate too much. With the way things have been going, I haven’t been trusting my pitches lately,” Blackburn said. “Tonight, everything was down in the strike zone and had good movement, but I just wasn’t relaxing enough. I tried to throw everything on the corner, instead of just trying to get ground balls.”

For the White Sox, it was just their second win against the Twins this season, and their second in the teams’ last 12 meetings.

“Especially when we play these guys and we never beat them,” said Guillen, whose team is 8-29 in its last 37 games against Minnesota. “I don’t care how it comes, as long as we win.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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