Thome, Anderson lead Sox over Twins
Duo totals six RBIs; Jenks barely survives ninth
MINNEAPOLIS -- If Saturday night's thrilling finish to the White Sox's 8-7 victory before 41,146 took place at any other locale but the Metrodome, then the Twins' ninth-inning rally off of top-notch closer Bobby Jenks might have been unexpected, or even startling.
For the White Sox (45-42) at Minnesota's home dome, a place where they had lost five straight and 10 of their last 11, it was just another hair-raising chapter in a book the South Siders can't wait to see closed at the end of the 2009 season. But this particular Metrodome story had a happy ending for Ozzie Guillen's crew.
"I think that's my first win here in the past 10 years that I've been managing the team," said Guillen with a nervous laugh, after the White Sox moved to within 2 1/2 games of first-place Detroit in the American League Central.
"But I knew this morning when I woke up that we were going to [beat] the Twins like we did today," said Guillen with a wry smile.
Leading 8-5 entering the ninth inning and with Jenks (20 saves) trying to complete a four-out save, Michael Cuddyer began this near-miss, one-out rally with a ground single up the middle. Joe Crede, who homered twice to account for the Twins first four runs, then reached on a two-base fielding error by third baseman Gordon Beckham.
Jenks hit pinch-hitter Brian Buscher with a 0-2 pitch to load the bases, and pinch-hitter Jose Morales followed with a two-run single up the middle. There were runners on first and second, one out and leadoff hitter Denard Span was at the plate with the lead trimmed to one.
To quote Mad magazine's Alfred E. Newman, "What, the White Sox worry?"
"Obviously, that goes through your mind," said Guillen, concerning the worry over another Metrodome meltdown. "I keep saying, man, I wish somebody else would give those guys the credit, just not me, because it sounds like I'm pulling for them. But those guys show up every day and you have to beat them. You have to play all nine innings and get 27 outs. They make you work."
"This team is relentless," White Sox starting and winning pitcher Gavin Floyd said. "They seem like they find holes, get runners on and make things happen. It's nice to hold the lead and come out with a win here."
A rare White Sox win was made possible at the Metrodome when Span's slow roller up the middle was fielded by shortstop Alexei Ramirez and turned into a 6-3, game-ending double play. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski pumped his fist and slapped gloves with Jenks, and viewers of the White Sox television broadcast probably were treated to a euphoric call by venerable and energetic play-by-play man Ken 'Hawk' Harrelson.
Mission accomplished for Chicago, who increased its second-place lead over Minnesota (44-44) to 1 1/2 games. As for how the Twins' ninth-inning comeback played out, Jenks put much of the onus on himself for the unwanted extra thrills.
"The curveball to Crede should have been in the dirt," said Jenks. "I hit a guy 0-2. Granted, it was on his elbow, but he was still on first base. The way I see it, I was executing my pitches. It was just that not everything went right."
"Even when that ball went through my legs, I still had a good feeling," Beckham said. "I didn't think we would give it up. I had a lot of confidence Bobby would get me out of that situation."
Chicago scored one off of Minnesota starter Glen Perkins (4-5) in the first on Jim Thome's groundout and added two more in the second, with Brian Anderson's run-scoring double being the big hit. That advantage grew to 5-0 in the fifth, before Crede launched a three-run blast to left in the bottom half of the inning.
Thome's bases-clearing, bloop-double to center in the sixth, coming on the first pitch from left-handed reliever Brian Duensing, put the White Sox back in control. Floyd (7-6) struck out seven, didn't issue a walk and pitched around two home runs allowed to Crede.
"It was a slider that didn't slide and a fastball that was a little up," said Floyd, who exited after 103 pitches and 7 2/3 innings, of the Crede miscues. "He put a charge into it. It's one of those things where you take as what it is and move on.
"We scored a lot of runs today and that helps out a lot, but I felt good and I was pretty locked in. I just tried to keep us in the game. Five runs isn't what I want [to allow], but I felt great out there."
Beckham contributed mightily to the offensive attack with three hits, including two doubles. It also was his error that gave the Twins a glimmer of life in the ninth, and allowed the rookie to see what all the Metrodome hoopla was about.
"Yeah, it's loud," said Beckham in a matter-of-fact tone. "It was a lot of fun, a very intense atmosphere."
An intense but eventually subdued atmosphere after Span's double-play grounder. Now, both teams want Sunday's series win to enter the All-Star break with second-half momentum.
"Those are all good things," Jenks said. "If we can go out there and win Sunday, it will be more important than today's game."
"Our guys didn't give up, didn't quit," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had a chance there at the end, which was fun. We like that part of it, but a disappointing loss. We have a chance to win a series, so we have to figure out a way to come back."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.