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Twins Look To Get Back On Track Behind Francisco Liriano

(Sports Network) - Everything seems to be clicking for the Chicago White Sox right now. That certainly extends to starter Gavin Floyd.

Floyd will try to win a fourth consecutive start and pitch Chicago to a 10th straight victory this evening in the continuation of a four-game series at Target Field against the Minnesota Twins, who hope Francisco Liriano can bounce back from one of the worst starts of his career without the benefit of having Justin Morneau in the lineup.

The White Sox carried an eight-game winning streak into the All-Star break and extended that run on Thursday with a scrappy 8-7 victory over the Twins. Gordon Beckham hit a solo homer, Juan Pierre finished with three hits, an RBI and two runs scored while Alex Rios added a pair of sacrifice flies as Chicago won for the 26th time in 31 games since June 8. That run has helped push the White Sox a game ahead of the idle Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central and 4 1/2 games up on the third-place Twins.

"That's how you draw it up, keep the line moving," Pierre said. "It was a good team effort."

Chicago, which won the opener of a 10-game road trip, is now two victories shy of its season-best 11-game win streak set from June 15-26.

White Sox starter John Danks ran into some trouble in the second inning, as he gave up six runs with two outs to turn a four-run lead into a 6-4 deficit. However, he didn't allow a run for the rest of his six-inning start.

Danks gave up consecutive RBI singles to J.J. HardyNick Punto and Denard Span in the second before later yielding a three-run double to Joe Mauer.

Mauer ended with three hits for the Twins, who have lost five of six, while starter Kevin Slowey gave up five runs over just three-plus innings.

"[The White Sox] executed pretty well at the top of the lineup and that's what got them going today, between Pierre and [Omar] Vizquel," Span said afterward. I think that was the key to them winning."

Things didn't get any better for the Twins after the game, as they placed Morneau on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 8 due to a concussion suffered versus Toronto that also caused the first baseman to miss Tuesday's All-Star Game. Morneau is hitting .345 with 18 homers and 56 RBI this year and isn't eligible to return until next Friday.

He won't get a chance to take his swings tonight against Floyd, who hasn't lost since June 13 and has held his opponents to a pair of earned runs or less in each of his last seven outings, going 3-1 in that span. He beat Kansas City on Saturday, giving up a run on six hits over 7 2/3 innings and retiring 11 straight at one point while improving to 5-7 with a 4.20 earned run average this season.

"That's five, six starts this kid's thrown that we expect from him, what we're looking for," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told his club's website. "Every time out starters go out there for seven-plus, six-plus, we have a chance, we're in the game and that's what we're doing. I don't know much about pitching, but Gavin could have the best stuff on our staff. He has a tremendous fastball plus a great breaking ball."

The 27-year-old has faced the Twins nine times in his career and is 4-4 with a 4.22 ERA.

His counterpart, Liriano, will be looking to rebound from last Friday's outing versus the Tigers in which the 26-year-old southpaw was drilled for seven runs on six hits and two walks over a season-low 1 2/3 innings. Liriano's losing streak reached four straight decisions and he fell to 6-7 with a 3.86 ERA on the season, though he is 3-3 with a solid 2.89 ERA in eight home starts.

Liriano got a no-decision versus the White Sox in his season debut on April 9, getting charged with three runs on four hits and five walks over six innings. Lifetime versus Chicago, he is 0-3 with a 6.84 ERA in seven games, four starts.

The Twins went 12-6 versus the White Sox last year, winning seven of nine at home between the teams, but the clubs have split six meetings so far in 2010.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.