CHICAGO (AP) - Ricky Nolasco liked everything but the result. That was just a little too familiar for the Twins.
Nolasco was outpitched by Chris Sale, giving up two home runs to Alejandro De Aza and two hits to the debuting Jose Abreu, and Minnesota opened the season on Monday with a 5-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
It wasn't exactly what the Twins envisioned after losing 291 games the past three years.
They spent $73 million to bring in Nolasco and Phil Hughes to bolster a struggling rotation, and brought back manager Ron Gardenhire on a two-year deal. They also moved Joe Mauer from catcher to first base in an effort to protect their star from injury.
The moves might pay off down the road, but they didn't yet against Sale and the White Sox.
Nolasco took the loss in a shaky debut with Minnesota. One of the top free agent pitchers last winter, he gave up five runs and 10 hits in six innings.
'I felt great,' Nolasco said. 'I thought I made a lot of good pitches. ... I thought they found some holes there. A lot of pretty good pitches I made and windy conditions didn't help.
'I thought we played good, we battled all game. Put up some runs, gave a good fight to Chris Sale and made it interesting late. Come back tomorrow or the next day and try and build off that.'
Sale got the win, pitching five-hit ball into the eighth.
Paul Konerko received a loud ovation before what was likely his final opener, although he wasn't in the lineup. The White Sox started the season with a win after losing 99 games last season.
Abreu doubled on the first pitch he saw leading off the second inning and scored on De Aza's two-run homer to give Chicago a 2-0 lead.
He also drove in the go-ahead run with a single during a two-run third after Minnesota's Kurt Suzuki tied it with a two-run single in the top half.
It was a good start for Abreu, who insisted he didn't feel any real first-game jitters. That line drive double to right on a ball that Oswaldo Arcia appeared to misjudge didn't hurt.
'You wanted to get that first one out of the way,' Abreu, who signed a six-year, $68 million deal in the offseason, said through an interpreter. 'Once you get it, it's a very happy moment.'
De Aza made it 5-2 with a solo shot just over the right-field wall in the sixth inning for his first career multihomer game.
That was enough for Sale, who allowed three runs and struck out eight and walked one. The two-time All-Star came out with a 5-2 lead with one out and a runner on second in the eighth.
Ronald Belisario allowed a two-out RBI single to Suzuki before Donnie Veal retired Mauer on a grounder.
Matt Lindstrom came on in the ninth after being announced as the closer by Ventura before the game. The right-hander gave up a one-out double to Chris Colabello before striking out Trevor Plouffe and retiring Arcia on a grounder to the mound for his first save since April 2011 when he was with Colorado.
There was a glitch before the game with their replay system as two blown fuses disabled a pair of monitors in the Minnesota clubhouse. That was fixed in time for the first pitch, but things didn't get much better for the Twins.
That is because the White Sox got big hits from Abreu and De Aza to back Sale.
'Really, a couple mistakes end up getting us,' Gardenhire said. 'De Aza - he clicked on a couple baseballs we got up. Didn't quite get them in where we wanted to, and he whacked them pretty good. But other than that, all the way around I thought it was a pretty decent ballgame. We had a chance and it was fun to play in.'
Notes: Minnesota LHP Brian Duensing was placed on the paternity list before Monday's game. RHP Michael Tonkin was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to replace Duensing, whose wife Lisa gave birth to a boy named Boston Matthew Duensing. . Twins general manager Terry Ryan didn't travel with the team to Chicago. Ryan was undergoing radiation to treat cancer. ... Konerko had started the previous 15 openers for the White Sox and 16 straight overall. He is in a reduced role after re-signing for one year.
The Associated Press News Service
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