MINNEAPOLIS -- Expected to be a low-scoring pitchers' duel between John Danks of the Chicago White Sox and Phil Hughes of the Minnesota Twins, it was a day for the bats -- especially early -- Sunday at Target Field.
A three-run fourth inning lifted the Twins to a 6-5 win giving Minnesota a four-game sweep of their rivals from the Windy City. It was the first four-game sweep for the Twins since June of 2011 and the first at home since it took four from the Oakland Athletics in July 2007.
The Twins staked Hughes to an early three-run lead, scoring one run in the first inning and two more in the second. But the top of the third was a nightmare for the right-hander, who faced 10 batters and gave up six hits and a walk in the inning.
White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham's bases-loaded double off the wall in left made it a 3-2 game and first baseman Jose Abreu followed with a sharp single up the middle, driving in two more to give Chicago the lead. A single later in the inning by third baseman Conor Gillaspie made it 5-3.
In the middle of it, Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes. Hughes was visibly irritated on several close calls in the inning by home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn.
"Just one of those games where you're not getting the close ones," Hughes said. "Especially with the bases loaded, I was trying to get some calls there and it didn't work out."
But the Twins came back against Danks in the fourth, getting back-to-back RBI singles from second baseman Brian Dozier and first baseman Joe Mauer before taking the lead for good on a sacrifice fly by left fielder Josh Willingham.
Danks, who entered Sunday on the heels of five straight quality starts and seven in his last eight outings, was off from the get-go. He walked the first two batters of the game and four overall in five innings of work, also allowing 10 hits. He took the loss, dropping to 6-6.
"Didn't throw enough strikes. It's unfortunate," Danks said. "We score some runs and I give it right back. Shot myself in the foot, didn't do myself any favors and it cost us the game. We scored five runs. That should be plenty to win a ballgame."
Minnesota catcher Kurt Suzuki led the offensive attack with three hits, his eighth three-hit game of the season and second of the series. Mauer went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and finished the series 6-for-16 with six runs driven in. Center fielder Sam Fuld also drove in a run and had two doubles.
Hughes retired seven of the final eight batters he faced to earn the win, but lasted only the five innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits and a walk. He struck out four and improved to 8-3.
"Everybody was great except for me today," Hughes said. "One of those sort of games. Just struggled with command, off-speed stuff wasn't great. Just tried to navigate my way through there."
After driving Hughes from the game, the White Sox could get nothing going against the Twins bullpen. Right-hander Anthony Swarzak worked two perfect innings on 20 pitches, handing the ball to Casey Fien, who was flawless in the eighth.
"We had the big inning, but after that, we just weren't very opportunistic," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "They made an error, we didn't do anything with it. Hughes struggled just like Johnny did, we just didn't do anything with it."
Jared Burton worked the ninth inning in place of Glen Perkins, who had pitched three straight days, and retired the Sox in order for his first save of the year.
"[Hughes] has been rock solid for us, but the one thing about this game, it's rare to find a guy who is on for every start," Twins bench coach Terry Steinbach said. "Was Hughsie off today? Yeah. But the bullpen picked him up, picked our team up and gave us a chance to win that game."
NOTES: Gardenhire's ejection was the second of the season and the 69th of his career. ... The four-game sweep by the Twins was their first four-gamer over the White Sox since June 1994. ... The loss by Chicago was its eighth straight road defeat. ... The save for RHP Burton was his first since last May 30 against Milwaukee.