CHICAGO (AP) - Talk about a tough act to follow.
Minnesota's Nick Blackburn had one Wednesday, getting on the mound about 15 hours after teammate Francisco Liriano tossed a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox.
Turns out Blackburn wasn't unhittable, but he wasn't bad, either. After not winning in a month, he pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning and watched Jason Kubel drive in a pair of runs as the Twins beat the reeling White Sox 3-2.
``I don't exactly have the same stuff,' said Blackburn, who went 6 2-3 innings, allowing the four hits and a run with four walks - two fewer than Liriano the night before.
``Not pumped about the walks, but I threw a threw a lot of close pitches that could have gone either way. I wasn't all over the place. I don't think my control was as bad as it sounds,' Blackburn said. ``We had those guys off balance pretty good and kept the ball down. I wasn't missing bad, I was around the plate.'
That's all you need against the White Sox, who lost for the 17th time in 21 games.
Blackburn (2-4) got his first win since his first start April 3, while Chicago's John Danks - a 15-game winner last season - dropped to 0-5. He gave up eight hits and three runs in eight innings.
Chicago's lefty didn't get much run support and was hurt by a rare mental error by 11-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel, who played second base and failed to cover first on a bunt in Minnesota's two-run sixth.
The White Sox are simply playing like the last-place team they have become.
``It's getting a little old. It's the same song and note,' Danks said.
``It's baffling to me why we're not playing better than we are playing,' he added. ``It's tough. No doubt.'
Minnesota forged ahead with two runs in the sixth inning.
Denard Span singled and Matt Tolbert reached on a bunt single when Vizquel didn't cover first after third baseman Mark Teahen fielded the ball. Span moved to third on a fly ball and scored on Kubel's sacrifice fly, and after Michael Cuddyer was walked intentionally, Rene Tosoni delivered an RBI single to make it 3-1.
``My mistake all the way,' Vizquel said. ``I was thinking more about the double play than being at first base for the bunt. Today I made a mistake, we paid for it. They scored two runs after that. That's the kind of things we have to pick each other up.'
Chicago got an unearned run in the eighth when Alexei Ramirez hit a one-out double off Glen Perkins and moved to third on a passed ball before Adam Dunn walked. Matt Capps relieved and gave up Paul Konerko's sacrifice fly before retiring Carlos Quentin on a pop.
Capps gave up a single and hit a batter in the ninth before retiring Juan Pierre on a fly ball to end the game and get his fifth save in six chances.
The Twins struck with a first-inning run when Span walked, moved up on a sacrifice bunt and Kubel hit a two-out RBI single.
Kubel, who homered Tuesday night, always hits well against the White Sox and drove in three of the four Minnesota runs in the brief series.
``I was able to find a hole out there in the first and they made it easy for me in the sixth and fortunately three runs was all we needed today,' Kubel said. ``I'd still like to see us score a lot more runs, but we'll take any win we can get right now.'
The Twins' modest two-game winning streak comes on the heels of a six-game skid. Now it's off to Boston for a four-game series.
``Frankie doing what he did yesterday, everybody is still kind of riding that wave right now,' Capps said. ``To be able to see that in person, I had a hard time sleeping, but when my alarm went off this morning, I woke up and couldn't wait to get to the park.
``To be able to come in and take two from these guys, I think they're in the same boat we're in right now where things aren't going right. All said and done, that's a pretty good ball club over there,' Capps added. ``The way we're playing, these last few games have been more like the Twins are used to playing.'
Blackburn opened with a win in his first start of the season April 3 and was winless in four starts since. In his last outing, he gave up eight hits and five earned runs in 3 1-3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Twins could sense the carryover from Liriano's gem.
``After a night like that, why wouldn't you want to get back out to the ballpark?' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``Everybody came out and we had a good atmosphere in the dugout.'
Notes: Kubel, who homered Tuesday night for the only run, has 69 RBIs in 72 games against the White Sox. ... Drew Butera's fifth-inning hit snapped an 0-for-22 skid. ... Rios had three hits for Chicago, which is 1-9 in its last 10 home games. ... The game time was 2 hours, 30 minutes, or 21 minutes longer than Tuesday night.
The Associated Press News Service
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