MINNEAPOLIS – Another big hit from Ryan Doumit turned what could’ve been an ugly loss into a win for the Minnesota Twins.
Doumit hit a go-ahead double in the eighth inning, leading Minnesota over the White Sox, 7-5, on Tuesday.
Joe Mauer homered and Trevor Plouffe had an RBI single in Minnesota’s four-run first inning off Dylan Axelrod.
After making base-running mistakes, errors and throwing wild pitches while blowing the lead, Doumit’s hit was very much needed.
“It’s nice to be the guy who came up with the big hit,” said Doumit, who also has delivered clutch hits in wins over Seattle and Washington this month. “It’s a nice little streak that I’m on, there’s no doubt. I don’t take anything for granted. Hopefully I can keep it going.”
The Sox came back to tie it at 5 in the eighth when Alex Rios worked a leadoff walk from reliever Jared Burton (1-4), stole second and scored on Paul Konerko’s single that bounced off the pitcher’s mound and into center field.
Clete Thomas walked with two outs against Ramon Troncoso (0-2) in the eighth. Mauer followed with a single – his third hit of the game – and Doumit drove a double to left center that gave the Twins the lead.
“They had a mishap or two out there on the bases as well, a couple of wild pitches that let us get some people in scoring position,” Konerko said. “When you break it all down it was just the one hit there at the end that did it. Everything was even probably besides that. That was it right there.”
The double was also Doumit’s third hit of the game.
Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his 17th save.
Konerko had four hits for the Sox, who have lost five of six and 13 of their past 15 on the road, and Conor Gillaspie had a two-run homer in the second off Twins starter Mike Pelfrey.
With the Sox in last place and struggling to score runs, questions are being asked about trading veterans and rebuilding the team. Konerko says not so fast.
“I still think there’s some good to come out of this at some point,” Konerko said. “It hasn’t been right now, it hasn’t been before now, but we still have good baseball in us. We just haven’t shown it.”
Coming off elbow surgery that wrecked his 2012 season, Pelfrey pitched into the seventh inning for his third straight start. He allowed four runs on 10 hits and left with runners on first and third with nobody out in the seventh.
Axelrod was pitching on seven days rest after allowing six runs in his previous start. After a rough beginning Tuesday, he settled down and retired 11 of 12 batters at one point and allowed five runs – four earned – in six innings.
“Just kind of changed my approach. Threw a few more fastballs after the first inning” Axelrod said. “It was almost like they were kind of diving on me. Just changed it up and it worked out well. It’s unfortunate what happened in the first.”
Konerko’s four-hit game was his first since July 24 of last season and raised his batting average to .248.
Mauer’s homer barely cleared the left-field wall and was his first with runners on base since Sept. 1 of last season.
The Twins had lost seven of their last 11 heading into Tuesday and were averaging fewer than three runs during the stretch.
“We kind of went silent after the first,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We just kind of hung on from there. Coming up late there is huge.”
Notes: Twins CF Aaron Hicks is running in the outfield and making progress rehabbing from a strained left hamstring. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Hicks — on the disabled list since June 10 — will probably have to complete a rehab assignment before returning to the Twins. ... Gillaspie is now second among AL rookies with five home runs. ... A bus transporting the Twins Elizabethton, Tenn., rookie league affiliate was involved in a bus crash that killed a driver traveling the wrong way down a highway in Florida. ... Josh Willingham was back in left field for Minnesota after missing two games with a sore knee. ... Coming off a start where he fanned 14, didn’t allow an earned run, but lost 2-1 at Houston, Chris Sale (5-5, 2.43 ERA) starts for Chicago on Wednesday. ... The Twins will counter with Kevin Correia (5-4, 3.97 ERA), who is 1-5 since April 23.