CHICAGO (AP) - Executing and doing the little things got the Minnesota Twins out of the A.L. Central basement.
They failed to do any of that Saturday in a loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Alexei Ramirez drove in the winning run with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth and the White Sox finally beat the Twins, 4-3. It was Chicago's first win over the Twins in seven meetings this season and ended a nine-game losing streak to Minnesota dating to last season.
Leading 3-2 in the eighth, Twins reliever Glen Perkins hit Juan Pierre with a pitch to start the inning and after a sacrifice, Paul Konerko was walked intentionally. Adam Dunn fouled out to right field with Pierre sliding head-first into third, just under Danny Valencia's tag.
``We should have had that out,' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``I talked to Danny about it, he's got to be really aggressive there and bury that tag. That could have been a huge play, but it didn't work out.'
Joe Nathan was summoned and Carlos Quentin lined a single to left to tie the game.
``It's a game of inches,' Nathan said. ``I think if (the pitch) was 2 inches higher, it's a good pitch. It was still a decent pitch, he just fought it off . strong enough guy to take it off the hands and serve it into the outfield.'
A.J. Pierzynski, who entered the game when Ramon Castro broke his right hand on passed ball in the eighth inning, doubled off Jose Mijares (0-1) to start the ninth. After two flyouts, Juan Pierre walked and Alex Burnett relieved before Ramirez lined a single to center with Pierzynski beating the throw home.
``They've done it to us all year and that's how they've been beating us is by getting two-out hits,' Pierzynski said. ``To come back, that game had the same old feel of the way we had lost a lot of games to these guys.'
Ex-Twins reliever Jesse Crain (5-2) got three outs for the win.
Minnesota starter Brian Duensing allowed five hits and a pair of runs over seven innings in a duel with Chicago lefty Mark Buehrle.
``Throwing against Buehrle helped,' Duensing said. ``He works incredibly fast. I felt like as soon as I sat down in the dugout, I had to go right back out. If I'm able to continue to keep a quick pace, it's easier for me to pitch because I'm not thinking too much, not second-guessing myself.'
Duensing, who tossed a complete-game shutout against Tampa Bay his last time out, lowered his earned run average to 4.13.
``I'm getting there. I don't think I'm quite there yet,' he said. ``I'm just starting to find a little bit of a rhythm, repeating my delivery. That goes a long way. So far, things have been going well. Hopefully they continue in the second half.'
Buehrle, who entered with a 25-19 career record against the Twins, his most wins against any team, allowed four hits and three unearned runs in eight innings with eight strikeouts.
Jason Repko led off the eighth with an infield single to short, reaching first with a head-first slide. A sacrifice moved him to second, he reached third on Castro's passed ball and scored on Alexi Casilla's fly to center for a 3-2 lead.
Ramirez hit his ninth homer to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead in the first. But the Twins got two in the third as Luke Hughes reached on an error by Chicago third baseman Brent Morel and Tsuyoshi Nishioka had a bunt single. After a sacrifice, Hughes scored on an infield out by Ben Revere before Casilla lined an RBI single.
After giving up a two-out double to Ramon Castro in the second, Duensing retired 11 straight before Juan Pierre singled in the sixth. Ramirez followed with a single to send him to third before Konerko backed center fielder Revere to the fence to haul in his game-tying sacrifice fly.
The loss of Castro put a bit of a damper on the victory celebration. He was hurt while Casilla was batting.
``He was trying to bunt, at the last moment he took the bat out of the way and the ball hit me right on the knuckle,' Castro said, adding he didn't know if he needed surgery. ``I called fastball away and the ball was inside, I moved, and forgot to get my hand back behind me.'
Notes: Twins RHP Kevin Slowey, on the disabled list with an abdominal strain, will make a rehab start Sunday in Triple-A. Outfielder Delmon Young (ankle) is expected to rejoin the team after two rehab games this weekend. And RHP Scott Baker (elbow) will meet with doctors Tuesday to see if he will be cleared to pitch. ... Revere made a nice diving catch of Quentin's sinking liner in the seventh. ... Former White Sox and current Twins DH Jim Thome struck out four straight times.
The Associated Press News Service
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