Pitcher Chris Sale struck out eight Minnesota Twins batters, and the Chicago White Sox held on for an 8-5 win at Target Field on Saturday night.
The Sox built a 6-3 lead, which looked safe until Ryan Doumit's two-run homer off reliever Nate Jones in the eighth pulled the Twins to within a run.
But Alejandro De Aza answered in the ninth with a two-run homer off reliever Casey Fien to put the game out of reach. Chicago's Addison Reed came on in the ninth to pick up his 30th save.
Sale kept the Twins hitters off balance early, and then struggled in the third when two balls nearly left the park, but he rallied to blank them for the remainder of his outing. He pitched seven innings and gave up three runs on nine hits and one walk to earn the win.
"I don't think Chris was probably as sharp during that little stretch," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "They hit some balls hard. You don't really see that consecutively like that. They hit some balls hard, buy we had a couple homers that kind of makes you catch up and get back into it quick and put it away. It was good all the way around. Nice stuff tonight."
Twins starter Andrew Albers came back to earth against the White Sox. After two shutouts (one a complete game) in first two career starts, Albers got hit around a bit, but still managed to pitch late into the game.
He threw 97 pitches in seven innings, giving up five runs on eight hits, one walk and three strike outs.
"I thought Albers hung in there pretty damn good after just one bad inning," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You look back at that and if he makes one pitch he's out of that inning, but it ends up costing him four runs. But to his credit, he really competed out there, gave us a good seven innings and held it right there."
The White Sox hitters appeared to have figured out Albers (who came into the game with an ERA of 0.00), getting to him early. They banged out 12 hits in the game.
With a 5-3 lead in the eighth, the Sox tacked on another when Twins left fielder Josh Willingham lost an Adam Dunn fly ball that fell 10 feet to his right, scoring De Aza.
Willingham tried to atone for his mishap with a lead-off double in the bottom of the eighth. He scored when Doumit hit his 10th homer of the season into the centerfield seats.
The Twins hitters struggled with Sale, but still had 11 hits in the game. They needed a couple more timely hits, leaving four runners in scoring position.
Albers, pitching in his third career game, gave up the first run of his career in the first inning.
De Aza singled to left and moved to third on an Alexei Ramirez popup to short center that the Twins couldn't reach. De Aza then scored on Paul Konerko's ground out to short.
Sale was cruising along, retiring the first eight batters he faced (five of them on strikeouts), when Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier hit back-to-back two-out singles. Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham then hit back-to-back doubles, scoring three runs.
"I made some mistakes to some great hitters," Sale said. "Hung a breaking ball to Mauer, and he's going to do that. Try to sneak a fastball by Willingham, and you pay for it. So you try to breathe after that and try to forget about it and get back out there."
The White Sox responded in the fourth with back-to-back two-out doubles by Dunn and Avisail Garcia, scoring Dunn. Jeff Keppinger walked and Dayan Viciedo hit a three-run homer giving the Sox back the lead at 5-3.
"Early on I was struggling a little bit with my command and falling behind a lot of hitters," Albers said. "Just didn't have a lot of rhythm. The first three or four innings I was have a tough time hitting outside corner. Had a lot of three-ball counts tonight. That makes for a tough day."
NOTES: Prior to the game, the White Sox purchased the contract of RHP Jake Petricka from Class Triple A Charlotte and placed RHP Ramon Troncoso on the DL with Pericarditis. ... The Twins have homered in 10 straight games -- their longest streak since 2007 when they hit one 11 games in a row. ... The White Sox starters rank third in the AL in ERA (3.81) and fourth in opponents' batting average (.249). ... In the first inning, Andrew Albers snapped his team record consecutive scoreless inning streak for a starter to begin a career at 17-1/3.