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Twins Face White Sox, Aim For Series Victory

(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Twins will try to make things even tighter in the AL Central, as they wrap up a four-game set with the division-leading Chicago White Sox today at Target Field.

After losing the opener of this series, the Twins have bounced back with consecutive victories to pull just 2 1/2 games back of Chicago for the division lead.

On Saturday, Carl Pavano threw his fourth complete game of the season, outdueling Mark Buehrle to lead the Twins to a 3-2 victory.

Pavano (11-6), who had never thrown more than two complete games in a season prior to this year, gave up seven hits, walked none and struck out six.

The right-hander got into trouble in the ninth, which Omar Vizquel began with a double, but retired the next three batters to win his sixth consecutive decision.

Buehrle (8-8), meanwhile, gave up only three runs on nine hits in eight innings, but took the loss. Paul Konerko finished 2-for-4 and drove in both runs for Chicago, which has dropped its last two after a nine-game win streak.

"It was a pitchers' duel out there," Buehrle said. "Obviously Carl's having a great year and throwing the ball well, and I put our team in a deep hole."

The White Sox will turn to Freddy Garcia today for another strong pitching performance. The veteran right-hander has won six straight decisions, and Chicago has come out on top in each of his last eight starts. On July 7th, Garcia allowed one unearned run and five hits over six innings of a 5-2 triumph of the Angels.

Garcia has split two starts against Minnesota this season, capturing a 5-2 win after allowing two runs in seven innings of work at Target Field on May 11th.

Countering for the Twins is Nick Blackburn, who has struggled of late. Loser of two straight, Blackburn is 1-6 with a 10.00 ERA in his last eight appearances. In his last outing on July 10th, the right-hander gave up seven earned runs and four homers in four innings of a 7-4 loss to Detroit.

In 13 career appearances - 12 starts - versus the White Sox, Blackburn is 6-5 with a 3.62 ERA. He, however, had a four-game win streak snapped versus them on April 11th, allowing five earned runs and three homers in 7 2/3 innings of a 5-4 setback.

The Twins went 12-6 versus the White Sox last year, winning seven of nine at home between the teams, and they have won five of eight meetings so far in 2010.

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