Slumping Twins strand 12

Published 9:29 am Monday, August 19, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins have left so many runners on base in the past few games that manager Ron Gardenhire can’t keep track of them.

“I don’t even know what we were with runners in scoring position,” Gardenhire said Sunday following a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. “I know it wasn’t good at all.”

He’s got that right. Minnesota went 2 for 18 with runners on second or third and stranded 12 in all.

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“There you have it,” Gardenhire said.

The lack of production in key situations has the Twins in a bit of a spiral. They lost three in a row to the White Sox and finished 2-5 on their homestand.

“It’s terrible, to be honest with you,” second baseman Brian Dozier said.

He’s equally frustrated about the team’s situational hitting.

“We have a high-intensity dugout that’s rooting for each other, trying to get runners on, trying to get those hits,” Dozier said. “It’s not like we root any harder when somebody gets on. We’re doing the best we can up there — just have to do a better job.”

Alexei Ramirez homered and had three RBIs for the White Sox, while Hector Santiago won for the first time since June 21.

Ramirez finished a triple shy of the cycle. He went deep leading off the fifth inning, giving Chicago a 4-2 lead and helping his team win its first road series in more than a month.

Jeff Keppinger’s single scored Avisail Garcia to make it 5-2 later in the fifth.

Santiago (4-7), who received only 11 runs of support in his previous eight starts, threw 117 pitches and held the Twins to one earned run over six innings. The left-hander wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by retiring Trevor Plouffe and Oswaldo Arcia on popups.

“I reared back a little bit and had some pitches that had some movement,” Santiago said. “They ran in a little bit on guys and I got two soft fly balls to get out of it.”

Addison Reed worked around a leadoff walk to Joe Mauer in the ninth to earn his 31st save in 36 chances.

Joining teammates Justin Morneau and Wilkin Ramirez in wearing his socks high, Twins starter Samuel Deduno (7-7) didn’t walk a batter for only the second time this season. But he hit three batters with pitches and balked once on his way to another rough outing.

The right-hander from the Dominican Republic allowed five runs on eight hits over five innings and has lost his last three starts since winning three of four.

“I didn’t go aggressive with my fastball and gave up a couple hits,” Deduno said. “I’m feeling fine, just not locating the fastball.”

Chicago has struggled to score all season, but has come on of late. Ramirez has three home runs and 11 RBIs since moving into the No. 3 slot in the batting order eight games ago.

“I still basically do the same thing,” Ramirez said. “If I have a runner in scoring position, I’m doing whatever I can to bring him home. For me, it’s a special place to hit.”

As a team, the White Sox have scored 35 runs in their last seven games and are hitting .307 during that span.

Santiago and the White Sox benefited from a little good fortune on Sunday, too.

After Dozier and Mauer singled to start the Minnesota first, Josh Willingham hit a shot that landed in the second tier of the roof deck — just a few feet on the foul side of the left-field pole.

Willingham eventually struck out.

With the Twins down 3-2 in the third, Willingham tried to score on a wild pitch, but the ball ricocheted off the limestone wall behind home plate right back to catcher Josh Phegley, who flipped it to Santiago in time to tag out a sliding Willingham at the plate.

NOTES: Twins 2013 first-round draft pick Kohl Stewart was promoted to Elizabethton after posting a 1.69 ERA with 16 strikeouts in three starts for Minnesota’s rookie level Gulf Coast League affiliate. … The Twins will send rookie Kyle Gibson (2-3, 6.27 ERA) to the mound for his 10th career start Monday afternoon in a makeup game against the Mets. New York will counter with Dillon Gee (8-8, 3.79).