Twins pick up Pavano in 3-2 win

Published 8:50 am Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Minnesota Twins have more power hitters and a higher-profile lineup since an exasperated Ozzie Guillen first labeled them “The Piranhas” four years ago for their pesky style.

Well, they’re still true to their roots.

The Twins picked up Carl Pavano this time, pecking away at John Danks before the go-ahead RBI single by Denard Span in the fourth inning of a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.

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“This is a good team,” White Sox leadoff man Juan Pierre said. “They beat us today by being fundamental. It’s the reason why these guys win every year.”

Span had two singles and a walk to give the Twins a lift at the top of the lineup and help them split the chilly two-game series with the White Sox, giving them a second 6-3 homestand at Target Field. The Twins are 8-1-2 in series this year, and the White Sox — who are eight games behind the AL Central leaders — are 2-7-2.

Their manager, Guillen, expressed his faith in this sputtering team this week, but Chicago is batting a league-low .230 after this game. The White Sox didn’t score in 16 of 18 innings here.

Center fielder Alex Rios took a two-run homer from Michael Cuddyer with a jumping catch over the wall in the fifth inning with the Twins leading 3-2, causing Cuddyer to smack his hands on his helmet in disbelief, but the momentum didn’t last.

“You think you have something going and that you’re going to nail this one,” Guillen said. “I was excited for the first inning. All of a sudden for seven or eight innings, nothing was done.”

The Twins were shut out in each of Pavano’s last two turns in the rotation, but he hasn’t been fazed.

Pavano (4-3) put up his fourth straight start allowing two earned runs or less, totaling 30 innings during that span. After allowing a double steal by Pierre and Rios in the first inning, with one run scoring on catcher Joe Mauer’s throwing error and another on Paul Konerko’s single, Pavano refined his slide-step motion to keep the runners from cheating and stopped overthrowing his sinker.

He pitched, well, like a veteran.

“Carl adjusts real well. He has been around and seen a lot of different swings, and he’s able to make adjustments on the fly,” Mauer said. “He kind of had a rocky first inning or two, and then he made the adjustment and kind of cruised after that.”

After the first, Pavano didn’t let a runner get past first base. He finished seven innings, giving up six hits, and left the game to Brian Duensing, Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch, who pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save.

“My last thought in my mind was if they were going to score me runs,” Pavano said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it time and time again: I don’t worry about that.”

Konerko gave Rauch a scare with a long fly down the left-field line in the ninth inning, but it hooked away from the foul pole.

“We kind of told ourselves that this is as close to a must-win you get in May,” Danks said, adding: “We’re not out of it, but we definitely could’ve helped ourselves a ton by getting two.”