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White Sox strand 13 in one-run loss

September 7, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — In the first seven-plus innings, hits were not hard to come by for the White Sox on Wednesday against the Twins. But when they needed one most in the eighth, the White Sox could not even get the ball out of the infield.

Trailing by two with no outs, the White Sox had the tying run at second base with the heart of their order coming to the plate. Held hitless the rest of the game, the White Sox lost, 5-4, to the Twins at Target Field.

“I think we played typical White Sox baseball,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I don’t think we lost, I think we just gave this game away. There’s no doubt in my mind we just gave it away.”

Despite collecting 12 hits on the night, the White Sox went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on base.

One of those hits came in the eighth, when Alexei Ramirez delivered a timely double, giving the White Sox a pair of runners in scoring position. But lefty Glen Perkins got Paul Konerko to pop out to first, A.J. Pierzynski grounded out to second and Alex Rios struck out looking to end the threat.

After watching strike three, Rios snapped his bat in half over his knee before throwing it to the ground along with his helmet.

“It was huge. That was the heart of their lineup,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “When we brought [Alex Burnett] in, we told him that we had a base open and he needed to make pitches. I thought he did a heck of a job getting the tapper back to the mound. It was all about making pitches after that and [Jose] Mijares did a great job with one pitch to A.J.”

The White Sox also were unable to come through in a similar situation in the sixth inning. After an RBI double by Juan Pierre — his 1,999th hit — they had a pair of runners in scoring position, but Ramirez grounded out for the second out of the inning.

After Konerko was intentionally walked, Pierzynski grounded into a forceout to end the inning.

“We had a lot of chances, [but] we couldn’t get the hits,” Guillen said. “I’m not going to talk about big hits, we can’t even get a hit.”

Along with the offense struggling in big situations, lefty John Danks was unable to keep the streak of strong White Sox starting pitching performances going.

After the White Sox had allowed just one run in the first three games of the series, including back-to-back shutouts, Danks gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits over six innings. The unearned run came after Danks’ appeared to pick off Luke Hughes, but Konerko’s throw to second sailed into left field and allowed Hughes to score the Twins’ fifth run.

Danks also walked two with four strikeouts and a hit batter. It was Danks’ second straight rough outing this month after three straight strong starts to end August, including a three-hit shutout at Seattle.

The loss marked Danks’ 11th of the season.

“I don’t know how many starts I have left, and I’ll be ready to throw in those games, but all in all, it’s been a crappy year,” Danks said.

“I’m looking forward to next year, starting clean. I don’t want to sound like I’m giving up on the year, I’m not. But definitely looking forward to a clean slate. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I put myself in this position. But it seems like this year especially, anything bad that can happen has.”

A big third inning cost Danks, as the Twins plated four two-out runs. After Danks issued a one-out walk to Drew Butera and Ben Revere singled, the lefty got Trevor Plouffe to strike out for the second out.

But an inside pitch grazed the jersey of Joe Mauer, loading the bases for a two-run bloop single by Danny Valencia and Chris Parmelee’s two-run double to center. Parmelee picked up his first two RBIs on his first extra-base hit.

“You obviously don’t want to walk Butera there,” Danks said. “But I made some good pitches to him, too.”

The White Sox answered with a pair of runs in the fifth, as Pierre led off the inning by reaching on a Parmelee error at first base. Pierre later scored on a single by Konerko, who advanced to third on an Pierzynski double and scored on Rios’ sacrifice fly to center.

Twins starter Carl Pavano did not have his best stuff, but picked up the win after he went 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs — only one of which was earned — on 10 hits. Pavano also walked a batter and had one strikeout.

One highlight on the night for the White Sox was right-hander Dylan Axelrod, who made his Major League debut in relief of Danks, tossing two scoreless frames while giving up just one hit. Axelrod also walked a batter and recorded his first two strikeouts.

Guillen was pleased with what he saw, especially with the way Axelrod threw a lot of strikes.

“It was just great getting out there for the first time,” Axelrod said. “It was fun getting that first strikeout, and that first out. Alexei made a great play on that. … It was just all a lot of highlights for me.”

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

White Sox notebook, 9/7

September 7, 2011 Comments off

Flowers finally blossoming into big leaguer

By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — In four games against the Twins this week, Tyler Flowers and A.J. Pierzynski have each been behind the plate twice. As he continues to progress, Flowers is likely to continue to see more time at catcher this month and into the 2012 season.In 24 games (21 starts) for the White Sox, the 25-year-old Flowers has batted .227 with three home runs, 10 RBIS and an OPS of .749. Pierzynski, by comparison, had hit .288 with six homers and 40 RBIs over 110 games entering Wednesday.

“[Flowers] put himself back on the map not just for this year but next year, too,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. “That’s what we were waiting for.”

Flowers’ development has come slowly since the White Sox acquired him as one of six players in a trade with the Braves for Javier Vazquez in December 2008.

But since he was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte, Flowers has been solid in the second half for the White Sox, especially defensively.

“Now he’s more hungry than he was before,” Guillen said. “Signing A.J. and [Ramon] Castro back maybe opened his eyes to, ‘Wait a minute, I’m getting behind.’ We’ve been waiting for this kid for the last two years but couldn’t get anything from him. Now we are.”

Quentin likely to return this weekend

MINNEAPOLIS — Right fielder Carlos Quentin took batting practice this week at Target Field for the first time since suffering a shoulder strain on Aug. 20. He could be back in action soon for the White Sox, but the question is where and in what capacity.

With the Minor League seasons having wrapped up, Quentin will not be able to go through the usual rehab process. He’ll likely have to just jump right back in at the Major League level.

“Pretty good,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of how Quentin looked. “I think he’s ready to go out there. We need to figure out, since Minor League is over, try to figure out how to do something about it. But I like the way he’s swinging. It seemed like he was pain-free.”

Quentin injured his left shoulder making a diving catch in the first inning against the Rangers on Aug. 20, and was eligible to return from the disabled list on Monday when the series against the Twins began.

“Hopefully in the next couple days — I don’t think tomorrow, but maybe over the weekend — he’ll be back in the field,” Guillen said.

Peavy expected to face Tigers on Monday

MINNEAPOLIS — For now, the White Sox will move forward with a six-man rotation that includes right-hander Jake Peavy.

Both Philip Humber and Zach Stewart — who both delivered brilliant performances in Monday’s doubleheader — are scheduled to start against the Indians over the weekend in Chicago, and Peavy is expected to follow them on Monday against the Tigers.

“I think we should keep it the same way,” manager Ozzie Guillen said of the rotation. “I’m not going to throw in the towel.

“I think [Peavy] should prepare himself for his next start. I don’t think there should be any problem with that. I expect him to go out there in the next start.”

If the White Sox decide they’re out of the American League Central race, it’s likely Peavy will be shut down at that point, to avoid any further injury risk.

Peavy said after his start Tuesday night, in which he tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a 3-0 win, that he felt he could continue to pitch, but would leave the decision up to the White Sox.

“I’ll let those guys make that decision,” Peavy said. “All I can do is be honest with them about the way I feel. Obviously, now it doesn’t seem like we’re playing for much.”

Rios putting together solid finish at the plate

MINNEAPOLIS — Center fielder Alex Rios entered Wednesday’s series finale against the Twins with a six-game hitting streak, including a solo home run in Tuesday’s 3-0 victory.

Rios has batted .423 with 11 hits in 26 at-bats while driving in three runs during the streak. Over his past 27 games (23 starts), Rios batted .288, raising his average from .206 on Aug. 2 to .224 entering Wednesday’s contest.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said the key for Rios has been hitting to all fields, rather than trying to pull the ball too often.

“You can see it every time Alex wants to pull the ball … it’s a ground ball somewhere,” Guillen said. “But when he stays in the middle of the field, he does what he’s doing right now. The last couple weeks, that’s why he’s been doing it.”

Rios’ streak ended in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss, as he went 0-for-4 with a sacrifice fly. He struck out looking with the tying run at third in the eighth inning.

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

White Sox post second straight shutout

September 6, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — It’s still unclear whether Jake Peavy will start again this season for the White Sox. But if Tuesday’s start was his last, it was not a bad way to finish off a tough year.

Peavy followed a pair of impressive performances by Philip Humber and Zach Stewart on Monday with one of his own as the White Sox picked up their third straight win and back-to-back shutouts with a 3-0 victory over the Twins at Target Field.

“I had a good game plan,” Peavy said. “I followed from what the boys did yesterday and scratched out enough to call it a win.

“I’m not pleased anytime I got out there and go 6 1/3, but at the same time, it’s a shutout win for the boys. And after all I’ve been through this year, I’ll take that any day of the week.”

Peavy, who continues to work his way back from last year’s major shoulder surgery, allowed just four hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out a season-high nine batters, while retiring nine in a row and 15 of 18 at one point. The last time Peavy had at least nine strikeouts was June 25, 2010, when he also had nine against the Cubs.

“Tonight, it was Peavy. … He had all his pitches working for him,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “He had a great fastball and a great breaking ball. I think you saw that. And we struck out 14 times tonight, and that’s not going to work out too awful well.”

While the White Sox did move into second place on Tuesday with their win and the Indians’ loss, the Tigers still own an eight-game lead in the American League Central. Detroit’s magic number is down to 14 with only 20 games left to play, and 22 left for Chicago.

With such a large deficit to overcome, and with five other White Sox starters available, Peavy is likely to be shut down early at some point. The question is how soon it will come.

“I’ll let those guys make that decision,” Peavy said. “All I can do is be honest with them about the way I feel. Obviously, now it doesn’t seem like we’re playing for much.”

While he is far from 100 percent, Peavy said he still feels good enough to make his next start if called upon to do so.

“I could go either way,” Peavy said. “Whatever they see fit and what they want me to do, I’m going to do that.

“I don’t feel as strong as I’ve ever felt by any means. There’s no doubt I feel worn down and tired. It’s been a grind, there’s no doubt about it. And we knew this season would be.”

Through the first three games of the series, the White Sox have allowed just one run on 14 hits. Their starting pitchers have gone 3-0, allowing 11 hits over 22 1/3 scoreless innings.

The White Sox got on the board in the second inning after Adam Dunn walked, advanced to second on a groundout, and scored on Alejandro De Aza’s RBI single to left. Alex Rios made it 2-0 in the fourth with his ninth home run.

De Aza led off the fifth with a triple and scored one batter later on Brent Morel’s RBI single.

Twins right-hander Liam Hendriks delivered a quality start in his Major League debut, giving up just three runs on four hits over seven innings. Hendriks struck out four batters and walked three.

White Sox closer Sergio Santos posted his 29th save with a clean ninth.

After struggling in his past two outings, Santos bounced back by getting two called third strikes and a flyout to center field.

“We got beat up pretty good down in Detroit,” Santos said. “To come to Minnesota, against a team that we usually don’t play well against, and to be able to put some runs up and pitch really well, we’re playing really good baseball right now. So hopefully, we can just finish off this year right.”

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

White Sox notebook, 9/6

September 6, 2011 Comments off

Flowers: Gem fun for ‘everybody but me’

By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — If anyone on the White Sox was not enjoying right-hander Zach Stewart’s bid for perfection on Monday night, it was catcher Tyler Flowers.As the one tasked with calling the game behind the plate, the pressure of making all the right calls to keep Stewart’s perfect game intact made for a stressful situation.

“It was fun for probably everybody but me. It was pretty stressful back there. I didn’t want to screw up and cause something bad to happen,” Flowers said.

“Now that it’s over, it was a lot of fun. … But he trusted in me the whole game, and that’s pretty good.”

Even though Flowers is now able to enjoy Stewart’s one-hitter, in which the right-hander retired 27 of the 28 batters he faced, the White Sox catcher did make one call that he could question.

Facing Twins third baseman Danny Valencia to lead off the eighth inning, Flowers and Stewart went with a 2-2 sinker off the plate for the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Valencia reached out and slapped the pitch a few inches off the plate and sliced it into right field for a double and the Twins’ lone baserunner.

“Now I do,” Flowers said of if he second-guessed himself. “But at the time, I thought that was the pitch to go with. We sped him up inside on a couple. [Valencia] was on the slider. [Stewart] had a good sinker all day. So go with what got you there. Sinker away.

“I was hoping we were going to freeze him. It was a little bit off the plate, too. It was a good pitch he hit. Tip your hat to Danny. He did a good job of putting the ball in play.”

Konerko given a breather against Twins

MINNEAPOLIS — After playing in each of the past 30 games for the White Sox, first baseman Paul Konerko got a day off Tuesday in the third game of their series against the Twins.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he tried to keep Konerko out of one of the games of Monday’s day-night doubleheader, but Konerko opted for the full day off instead. He should return to the lineup for Wednesday’s series finale at Target Field.

“I think today’s perfect because tomorrow we have a night game,” Guillen said. “This kid has been playing every day.”

Konerko last sat out when he missed three games in early August with a calf injury. Over the last month, Konerko has batted .333 with three home runs, 16 RBIs and an OPS of .930.

Adam Dunn started at first base and went 0-1 with three walks and a run scored in the club’s 3-0 win.

Axelrod hopes to get jump on Spring Training

MINNEAPOLIS — When he was not among the first group of September callups for the White Sox, right-hander Dylan Axelrod figured he would not be joining the big league club for the season’s final month.

But to his surprise, he got the call on Monday to pack his bags and join the team at Target Field.

“I knew I had a really good, solid year, but after the initial callups, it did come as a surprise,” Axelrod said. “I thought I was going home, and then yesterday I woke up, got a call at 11 a.m., had to go over to the field, get all my stuff, and I had a 1:50 p.m. flight.”

Axelrod arrived between games of the day-night doubleheader and suited up for the White Sox against the Twins for the nightcap.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen did not need to call upon his bullpen Monday night with Zach Stewart tossing a one-hitter, but Axelrod could get in a game soon with the White Sox bullpen having been overworked lately.

When he does see game action, Axelrod will be making his Major League debut.

“I just hope to make a good impression,” Axelrod said. “It is a building block for Spring Training next year, and as I try to come out and try to make the team next year. I’ll be ready whenever they tell me they need me.”

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

Stewart making good impression for future

September 5, 2011 Comments off

By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — In his first White Sox start, Zach Stewart got his first career win against the Twins. Making his fifth start with Chicago on Monday night, Stewart delivered a masterful performance against the Twins to record his first career complete game and shutout.Stewart threw a one-hitter, retiring 27 of 28 batters faced, with a leadoff double in the eighth inning by Danny Valencia being the only blemish on his near-perfect game. Impressively, he did it after allowing 13 runs over 10 2/3 innings in his previous two starts.

“I was a little more down in the zone today compared to the last two,” Stewart said after the 4-0 win in the second game of a doubleheader sweep. “I didn’t miss as many spots I guess.”

The rookie right-hander also said he started a few batters with breaking balls after noticing early in the game the Twins were jumping on fastballs early in the count.

Whatever he did, it amounted to an impressive outing, in which Stewart delivered a career-high 114 pitches and struck out a career-best nine batters.

“He’s been a real nice addition. I think he’s a quality big league starter,” White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. “Obviously, he’s been showing that, too. He’s got not only a good arm, but he’s got some touch and he knows how to pitch, which for a young guy that’s pretty good.”

Stewart said he was not really aware of the perfect game until the fifth or sixth inning, and that he really did not let it affect him until he tried to lock in and focus on finishing it out in the eighth.

Stewart is 2-3 with a 4.56 ERA this season, and he has gone 2-2 with a 4.41 ERA since being acquired by the White Sox from the Blue Jays in late July.

Aside from his poor outings in his previous two starts entering Monday’s game, Stewart is 2-1 with a 1.25 ERA in his three other White Sox starts. He’s made quite an impression along the way as well.

“He’s had some really good starts. It’s good to see a young guy come out like that and pitch the way he’s pitched,” said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who watched Stewart’s dominant outing from the bench.

“He’s got good composure, he throws the ball over the plate, he’s not afraid, and he made guys put the bat on the ball. When you put those things together in this ballpark that’s not easy to hit home runs in, you’ve got a recipe for success.”

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was especially impressed with Stewart’s composure on the mound after giving up his first hit of the game in the eighth.

After giving up that hit, Stewart picked up right where he had left off, retiring the final six batters he faced after getting the first 21 batters of the game.

“This kid, to give up the no-hitter, perfect game, whatever it was, to right away throw the ball around the plate again, [saying] ‘Go hit it.’ Man on third base, no panic,” Guillen said. “That’s a good thing when kids carry themselves that way on the mound.”

White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, who worked behind the plate after Pierzynski caught the first game of the split doubleheader, also liked Stewart’s reaction after the 22nd batter of the game finally broke through for a hit.

Flowers said he hopes Stewart’s performance is something the White Sox can build upon.

“It’s good to see for the future,” Flowers said. “Hopefully, we can put a run together here toward the end, but if not, it’s good to have that kind of arm for the next few years.

“I thought he was going to crack a smirk or something out there [after the double], but he was like, ‘All right. Let’s get the next guy.’ So that’s good to see.”

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

Stewart nearly perfect for White Sox

September 5, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — As he warmed in the bullpen, Zach Stewart could tell he was going to have a good night. Little did he know he would flirt with history on Monday at Target Field.

Stewart wasn’t perfect against the Twins, but came close as he delivered what was easily the best start of his career.

Stewart blanked the Twins, retiring 27 of 28 batters — perfect until Danny Valencia’s leadoff double in the eighth — as the White Sox swept the doubleheader with the 4-0 victory in the nightcap following a 2-1 win in the afternoon.

“It was a lot of fun. It was just one of those things,” Stewart said. “In the ‘pen, the ball was coming out good. I could tell it was going to be somewhat of a good night. I didn’t know it was going to be that good. But it just felt good from the beginning.”

In just his eighth career start, Stewart came within six outs of tossing what would have been third perfect game in White Sox history, and the first for the club since Mark Buehrle on July 23, 2009. He also would have been the first rookie to pitch a no-hitter since Boston’s Clay Buchholz no-hit the Orioles on Sept. 1, 2007, in his second career start.

Instead, Stewart settled for a one-hitter, the first complete game and shutout of his career. Stewart also had the first shutout by a White Sox rookie since Wilson Alvarez no-hit the Orioles at Baltimore on Aug. 11, 1991.

Stewart struck out a career-high nine while tossing a career-high 114 pitches and allowing only the one baserunner in the 62nd one-hitter in White Sox history and the first since Freddy Garcia on Aug. 23, 2005, also in Minnesota.

“I thought [a perfect game] was possible the way he was throwing the ball,” said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers. “All day he had good sink. He was able to locate his offspeed pretty well. Just one pitch away, I guess.”

That one pitch was a sinker away to Twins third baseman Valencia, who sliced it to right field for a double leading off the eighth inning.

“It was tough because I fell behind real quick,” Valencia said. “But I knew eventually he’d try to backdoor me with a heater on the outside corner, and he made a pretty good pitch, but I was able to get the barrel out there.”

Stewart said he had to tip his cap to Valencia, who made a good swing on a good pitch.

After he surrendered the perfect game, Stewart was almost more impressive over the final two innings. He retired the final six Twins he faced, getting a groundout, popout, three straight strikeouts and a groundout to end the game.

Said Stewart of his performance after the double: “Yeah, I’ve given up hits before, so I guess you just get used to it.”

Chicago scored first with a run in the second on three singles, and added another in the fifth with a Brent Lillibridge double and Alexei Ramirez single. The White Sox also scored two more in the seventh on three singles and a walk.

The four runs of support likely helped Stewart remain in the game after the eighth. Lefty Chris Sale was warming in the bullpen, and would have come in if Joe Mauer got to the plate, manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Stewart breezed through the first four innings, needing just 40 pitches to retire the first 12 batters he faced. He also got some defensive help from the left side of the infield, as Brent Morel made a pair of nice plays on grounders and Ramirez saved a hit on a liner to short.

Morel made a diving stop at third base and threw to first to retire Trevor Plouffe for the second out in the fourth. With two outs in the sixth, Morel added another tough stop and a strong throw to retire Drew Butera.

After a long flyout to right by Plouffe for the second out in the seventh, Mauer ripped a hard liner toward short that looked like it could get through for the Twins’ first hit. But Ramirez took a couple steps to his right and snagged it to keep the perfect game intact.

It was after that lineout to Ramirez that Stewart really made it seem as though he could finish it off with only two innings to go.

“When Mauer hit that lineout to end the seventh, I was like ‘OK, this looks like it might happen,'” said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who watched Stewart’s performance from the dugout. “Because when balls get hit like that, that’s usually what you look for in perfect games or no-hitters. It didn’t work out, but it was still a good game.”

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

Humber makes strong return in Game 1 win

September 5, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — In his first full season in the Major Leagues, right-hander Philip Humber has learned that it is just as much a mental grind as a physical one — if not more so — over the course of 162 games.

So while getting hit just above his right eye with a line drive and missing two weeks as a result was far from ideal, the time off may turn out to be just what Humber needed to get back to the way he pitched in the first half of the season.

In his first start since Aug. 18, Humber delivered his best outing of the second half as the White Sox picked up a 2-1 victory over the Twins in the first game of a split doubleheader on Monday.

“It feels like it’s been a year since I had a win,” Humber said. “The guys did a great job getting those runs early, and I just kind of got a lot of ground balls. It was a great feeling to have some success.”

With the win, the White Sox snapped a four-game losing streak and remained 8 1/2 games back of the first-place Tigers in the American League Central. Chicago has won four in a row at Target Field, its first four-game streak in Minnesota since May 23-July 1, 2004.

Humber tossed seven scoreless innings, giving up just six hits as he struck out six and did not walk a batter. While he allowed all of his baserunners over his last five frames, Humber allowed more than one batter to reach base just twice — in the third and seventh innings.

He did not have a good feel for his curveball, so Humber and White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski focused more on the slider, giving the Twins a different look than expected.

“He’s developed a really good slider. He didn’t have that pitch when he was with us,” said Luke Hughes, who played with Humber in the Twins’ system. “So he’s kind of stepped it up a little for sure. We talked about it at lunch today. That pitch has made him successful, and he’s had a great year.”

It was Humber’s first scoreless outing of seven innings or more, and his first win, since July 2 at Wrigley Field, when he held the Cubs without a run on just five hits over seven frames. Humber has gone seven or more scoreless innings three times this season, with the other instance being April 25 at Yankee Stadium.

Humber had his last start cut short after 1 1/3 innings when he was struck just above his right eye with a line drive off the bat of Kosuke Fukudome. In his previous six starts, Humber had gone 0-4 with a 7.16 ERA, giving up 22 earned runs in 27 2/3 innings.

In his first start since coming off the disabled list, Humber looked more like the pitcher that went 8-4 with a 2.57 ERA in 15 starts before the All-Star break.

“He seemed like he got it back,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. “All the time off and things, it seemed like he was stronger again.”

Humber will now look to build on this strong start over the final month of the season.

“I hope so, it’s a lot more fun getting them out than it is struggling to hold them,” Humber said. “Hopefully, just build off that and use that confidence into my next couple of starts.”

After being retired in order by Twins right-hander Anthony Swarzak in the first inning, the White Sox scored one run each in the second and third. Pierzynski led off with a double in the second and scored on Alejandro De Aza’s fielder’s choice.

In the third, Juan Pierre singled with one out, and Alexei Ramirez drove him in with a double down the left-field line.

Swarzak allowed just two runs on seven hits over eight innings of work, but he took the loss as the Twins could not provide any run support. Eight innings matched a career high for Swarzak, who struck out four batters without a walk.

Things got interesting in the ninth, when Sergio Santos came in after Matt Thornton got the first out of the inning, but Santos struggled and was removed in favor of Chris Sale. Santos allowed a walk, single and sacrifice fly, cutting the lead to one run, but Sale got the strikeout to end the ballgame.

Santos struggled for the second straight outing, but Guillen said he would stick with the right-hander in the closer’s role.

“It was more a gut feeling than anything. I wanted the matchup with Repko [against Sale],” Guillen said. “The last thing we wanted to do was lose a game like that.

“If we’ve got the same opportunity for Santos [in Game 2], he’s going to be back on the mound.”

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