Lead slips away from Twins in loss to White Sox

Published 1:02 am Wednesday, June 24, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — As teams so often do, the Minnesota Twins scored right away against Chicago White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija.

On this night, they needed more.

Mike Pelfrey let a pair of early leads slip away as Samardzija struck out seven batters in seven innings, and the White Sox beat the Twins 6-2 Tuesday to snap a seven-game losing streak away from Chicago.

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The time to succeed against Samardzija is in that first inning, when the right-hander has allowed 19 runs, the most in the majors, in 15 starts. Eddie Rosario added to the total with a homer for an early 1-0 lead, but Torii Hunter grounded into a double play with two runners on to ruin that rally.

“You look at Samardzija’s track record. He’s been giving up some runs in the first couple innings, and then he’s been cruising,” said Twins leadoff hitter Brian Dozier. “So we knew we had to try to get up on him early. He settled in, and for the most part offensively we didn’t stay aggressive.”

Hunter was hit by a two-out pitch in the fourth inning, advanced on Eduardo Nunez’s infield single and scored on Kurt Suzuki’s double to give the Twins a 2-1 lead, but Nunez was out easily trying to score from first on sharp throws from Melky Cabrera in left field and Alexei Ramirez at shortstop.

Suzuki had another chance, with two on and two out in the sixth, but he grounded out.

Then in the seventh, Samardzija kept Byron Buxton from taking a large lead after a one-out single, putting catcher Geovany Soto in position to throw out the rookie speedster on an attempted steal of second base.

“It seems like every team calls up a new guy that can steal 40 bags. I just wanted to give Geo a good chance to throw him out,” Samardzija said.

Soto had two RBI singles and Cabrera drove in the go-ahead run on a two-out single seventh to give Samardzija (5-4) the victory, sending Pelfrey (5-4) to his first loss in seven starts at home this year.

“I felt good. Obviously not good enough,” Pelfrey said. “The frustrating part is how tough Samardzija is on the other side.”

Pelfrey’s ERA at home this season is still a sparkling 1.80. He allowed 10 hits, three runs and three walks in 6 2/3 innings, but Cabrera’s sharp single on a 1-0 sinker made his night look less impressive. Manager Paul Molitor paid Pelfrey a visit on the mound before Cabrera’s at-bat, pondering a change, but the trust didn’t yield an obvious reward.

“I just asked him how he was doing and he said, ‘Still good.’ So I said, ‘Let’s get this guy out and try to find a way to get you a win,”’ Molitor said. “It didn’t work out that way. They hit the ball in the right place that inning.”

Jose Abreu had a career-high four hits for the White Sox, who stopped another dubious slide by topping three runs for the first time in 10 games. That was their longest such run since 1976. Abreu is batting .337 in his last 25 games.

Samardzija gave up eight of his majors-most 118 hits allowed and walked one. He won for the first time in six starts since May 22, which was also against the Twins.

The White Sox also ended a six-game losing streak at Target Field during which they were outscored 55-14.


After tallying three runs on three hits the night before, his first game in the leadoff spot, Buxton was batting ninth again because of the challenging right-against-right matchup against Samardzija. Molitor was asked whether he considered leaving Buxton at the top.

“The fan in me was. It’s one of those things that I took home with me a little bit. I try not to take too many things home. But I pondered it,” Molitor said.


Twins RHP Ricky Nolasco finally received the orthotic device to relieve pain in his right ankle. He threw lightly before the game and will take the mound later this week.


Chris Sale (6-3, 2.74 ERA) will pitch for the White Sox Wednesday in the series finale, having struck out at least 12 batters in each of his last five starts to match Pedro Martinez (1999) and Randy Johnson (1998) for the major league record. Sale is 3-1 with a 0.72 ERA in those last five turns.

Phil Hughes (5-6, 4.47 ERA) will start for the Twins, coming off his strongest appearance of the season. He beat the Cubs with eight innings and one run on two hits.