CHICAGO – The White Sox gave Erik Johnson plenty of offensive support in the first inning to coast to his first major league victory.
Johnson pitched six scoreless innings, and Chicago scored seven runs in the opening frame en route to a 12-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.
The Sox, who had lost six straight and 15 of 17, broke out of their hitting funk against Liam Hendriks and the Twins. Chicago scored a season high in runs and posted its biggest margin of victory this year.
It was a needed boost for the Sox after they lost four straight to Cleveland. Chicago manager Robin Ventura even gave credit to the announced 960 dogs who were in the park for the team's Dog Day promotion.
"You could say that. It's good, I think, for the lineup to have a night like this with a lot of guys swinging the bats," Ventura said. "If we need dogs to show up every night, we'll go ahead and make that happen."
Johnson (1-2), whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Charlotte on Sept. 3, was the beneficiary of the offense. He had allowed 11 runs — but only five earned — in his two losses. Johnson blanked the Twins and gave up only four hits. He struck out eight and walked two.
"It's definitely one to remember," Johnson said. "It's one under your belt, so now you can take a deep breath and go back to work. It's nice to have that run support in the first inning."
After not having led since beating the Tigers 5-1 a week earlier, the White Sox had six hits in the first. Alejandro De Aza and Alexei Ramirez both reached base twice and scored in the inning.
Ramirez went 4 for 4 with his fifth home run and three runs batted in, and was a triple short of the cycle. Adam Dunn, Dayan Viciedo and Jordan Danks also homered.
During their skid, the Sox scored a total of seven runs. They matched that in the first inning and equaled their eighth-inning performance against Detroit on July 9 for most runs scored in a frame this year.
It was the Sox's highest-scoring first inning since they had eight runs against Detroit on April 21, 2002.
"It's always nice to get run support like that," Johnson said. "I think for me it was getting that zero in the top of the first. That kind of set the rhythm for me."
Hendriks (1-3) didn't come close to a clean first inning. The rout cut off the momentum the Twins generated with a come-from-behind victory over playoff-contending Tampa Bay on Sunday.
After rallying from a three-run deficit one day earlier, the Twins were routed. Hendriks struggled badly, extending his winless streak to three starts.
He got only two outs against the Sox and gave up seven runs, five hits, and three walks in his 10-batter outing.
It marked the first time the Twins allowed that many runs in the first inning since the opening game of a doubleheader against Kansas City on July 28, 1997.
"I felt good in the windup. I missed a couple of pitches, got some weak contact, but after that I couldn't get into a rhythm, I couldn't get into a flow. That was embarrassing," Hendriks said. "That's the only way to put it. Embarrassing, disappointing. I don't know what else to say about that one."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was certainly ready to move on, too.
"We just have to go out and regroup for (Tuesday). Hopefully, our starting pitcher (Mike Pelfrey) will give us a shot and keep us in the ballgame. Tonight was just one of those nights," Gardenhire said. "Their guy threw the ball decent, but we got behind so quickly we couldn't do anything."
NOTES: White Sox OF Avisail Garcia wasn't in the lineup for the second straight day. Garcia's wife, Anakarina, gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Annarella, on Monday. ... Dunn said this has been "another wasted season" because Sox will miss the playoffs. Dunn has never been in the postseason. ... C Bryan Anderson went 0 for 4 and was the only Sox starter not to have a hit. ... Twins SS Pedro Florimon was ejected by home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez after the seventh inning. Florimon was still upset about being called out on strikes in the top of the inning (his third strikeout in three at-bats). He said something to Marquez as he left his defensive position at the end of the inning. ... Justin Morneau was announced as Minnesota's nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, even though he was traded to Pittsburgh at the end of August. ... Pelfrey (5-12, 5.31) will face the Sox's Jose Quintana (7-6, 3.56) on Tuesday.