MINNEAPOLIS -- Jose Morales may have discovered a stunningly simple secret to success as a pinch hitter.
"A full mind is an empty bat," Morales said with a smile.Morales' pinch-hit single scored Nick Punto with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Minnesota Twins to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
• The Twins' walk-off win moved them to 9-2 over their last 11 games.
• Jeff Manship (5 IP, 1 ER) had a strong debut despite not earning a decision.
• Michael Cuddyer (23, 24) recorded his fifth career multi-homer game -- third this season -- and tied his career high for homers in a season, set in 2006.
• John Danks (7 IP, 3 ER) has a 2.34 ERA over his last five starts for the White Sox.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
The Twins' third catcher was recalled on Saturday and had not had an at-bat in the big leagues since July 11. But he looked as if he was never gone when he roped a single to right-center field and immediately raised his arm as his teammates stormed out of the dugout."I actually just take it like a regular at-bat," said Morales, who is 4 for 10 as a pinch hitter this year. "I put too much pressure on myself when I start thinking too much."Manager Ron Gardenhire didn't have too many options when he sent Morales to pinch hit for Alexi Casilla. But he has plenty of confidence in the 26-year-old after former manager Tom Kelly called Morales "the most professional hitter" at Triple-A Rochester."I kind of take that to heart when T.K. says something like that," Gardenhire said. "So you have a lot of confidence because we've seen him do it up here so much."Michael Cuddyer hit two homers and Jeff Manship was sharp in his first big league start for the Twins, who have won nine of 11 and remained 3½ games behind Detroit in the AL Central."We've played bad long enough this year," Gardenhire said. "It's time to play good."Cuddyer tied his career high for homers in a season with 24 and continued his domination of White Sox starter John Danks.Cuddyer is hitting .481 (13 for 27) with four homers and 10 RBIs in his career against Danks. He hit solo homers in the fifth inning to tie the game and in the seventh to give the Twins a 3-1 lead.But the normally reliable duo of Jose Mijares and Matt Guerrier faltered in the eighth. Mijares walked Scott Podsednik to lead off the inning and Gordon Beckham followed with a two-run homer off Guerrier to tie the game 3-3.Alexei Ramirez had a solo homer in the fifth for the White Sox, the only mistake Manship made on the night. He allowed four hits with two strikeouts and two walks in five solid innings."It's not easy," Beckham said. "But I think we're still fighting, we're working as hard as we can to win. It's just not working out. We can't find ways to win right now."Danks allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings for Chicago, which has lost five in a row."I didn't make very good pitches to Cuddyer and he's a hitter, a guy that will hit those pitches a long way like he did tonight," Danks said. "I've got to get better in that regard."Jon Rauch (2-0) pitched one inning for the win.The fact that Manship was on the hill in September against the division rival White Sox shows just how decimated the Twins' starting rotation has been by injury and inconsistency this season.Francisco Liriano and Kevin Slowey are on the disabled list, and despite the patchwork job manager Ron Gardenhire has had to do with young arms, the Twins sent starter Glen Perkins to Triple-A Rochester after his stint on the disabled list because he has been unreliable in the rotation this season."Manship was super for us," Gardenhire said. "He controlled the game."After losing their fourth straight game and eighth in the last nine on Monday night to fall six games behind Detroit in the AL Central race, the White Sox appeared to raise the white flag.General manager Ken Williams traded two of the most respected veterans in the clubhouse after the loss to the Twins. Slugger Jim Thome went to the Los Angeles Dodgers and starter Jose Contreras to the Colorado Rockies."Everybody has to play better and pick it up a notch," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "But a white flag? No."
It was Cuddyer's fifth career two-homer game and third this season. ... Podsednik made a wonderful diving catch on a gapper by Brendan Harris in the second inning. ... Twins CF Denard Span hit his ninth triple this year, which is tied for the lead in the American League.