CHICAGO (AP) -- Michael Cuddyer believed his team was better and thought the problems would pass.
Wishful thinking or not, time proved him right.Cuddyer and Justin Morneau each hit two-run homers and the surging Minnesota Twins beat plummeting Chicago 7-4 on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep and move into a second-place tie with the White Sox.
The Twins pulled into a second-place tie with the White Sox in the AL Central after completing a three-game sweep at Chicago. It was only the third time since the franchise relocated to Minnesota in 1961 that the Twins swept a road series of at least three games from the defending World Series champion. Minnesota did it twice in 1973, with a pair of three-game sweeps at Oakland (one in April, to begin the season, and the other in late September).• For more Elias Says, click here
Minnesota and Chicago trail Detroit by 8½ games in the AL Central and are ½ game behind the Yankees in the AL wild-card race. The Twins, who have won 34 of 42, open a three-game series at home against Detroit on Friday."We knew, eventually, if we were to keep winning, we'd catch whoever was in front of us," Cuddyer said.Cuddyer homered in the first inning, and Morneau broke a 3-3 tie with a long shot to right in the fifth.The White Sox had been running neck-and-neck with Detroit but have fallen back during a skid in which they've dropped 12 of 15."For the first time in my life I'm speechless," said Ozzie Guillen, Chicago's outspoken manager. "It's been two tough weeks. It's tough for me to point at any of the players. I blame everybody."All-Star left-hander Mark Buehrle (9-9) lost his fifth straight start, allowing 10 hits and seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. He left
with two runners on in the sixth. Both scored on Nick Punto's
single off Brandon McCarthy that made it 7-3."I haven't done anything for this team in the last month and a half," Buehrle said. "It's getting frustrating. Every time we score some runs, I go back and give them right back up. It's embarrassing, and I'd better turn it around."Morneau put the Twins ahead with two outs in the fifth. With a runner on second, he connected for his 27th homer -- a shot that sailed an estimated 437 feet and landed a few rows shy of the concourse in right.The left-handed Morneau wasn't sure he would be in the lineup, with a lefty on the mound, until he popped into the manager's office before the game."I'm playing today, right?" he asked.Twins manager Ron Gardenhire responded, "Why, you got any other ideas?"Morneau, Jason Bartlett and Josh Rabe had three hits each, and the Twins had 16 in all. Punto singled twice, extending his career-high hitting streak to 18 games. Minnesota scored all of its runs with two out.Carlos Silva (6-9) allowed three runs and six hits in five innings, struck out three and walked one for the Twins. Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 22 chances.The White Sox tied it at 3 with three runs in the fourth on Jermaine Dye's two-run homer and Joe Crede's RBI single.But it didn't last thanks to Buehrle's struggles and Minnesota's hot hitting.Buehrle's ERA has jumped from 3.22 to 4.81 during his slide. The Twins were 25-33 in early June but now are in the thick of playoff contention."Even when we were playing as bad as we were the first month and a half of the season, we still didn't give up on ourselves," Cuddyer said. "We still played with enthusiasm. And we still knew that if we played the type of baseball we're capable of, we could get back into things."Punto singled to left in the first inning and scored when Cuddyer drove a 3-2 pitch over the left-field fence with two out. It was his 14th homer and second in three games.The Twins added a run in the third.The White Sox intentionally walked the right-handed Cuddyer -- putting runners on first and third -- with two out to set up a lefty vs. lefty matchup between Buehrle and Morneau. The strategy failed as Morneau lined a single to left to drive in Luis Castillo, who led off with a triple, making it 3-0.Chicago's Rob Mackowiak led off the seventh with a homer off Pat Neshek to make it 7-4."We're judging ourselves off of what's happened the last two weeks. If you do that, you might want to jump off a building," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said.
Buehrle's losing streak is his longest since dropping a career-high nine in a row from April 20 to June 11, 2003. ... Nathan earned his 108th save with the Twins, tying him for third on the club's career list with Ron Davis. ... The three-hit game was the first in Rabe's career. ... Gardenhire scrapped his plan to have catcher Joe Mauer serve as the designated hitter and gave him the day off. Mike Redmond caught and Rabe served as the DH. "This gives [Mauer] an opportunity to get back-to-back [days off]," Gardenhire said. "As hard as it is to write him out of the lineup, it is the right thing to do every once in a while for him."