(Sports Network) – Joe Mauer’s three-run homer started a string of three consecutive three-run innings, and the Minnesota Twins routed the Chicago White Sox, 9-3, to take command of the AL Central.
Mauer went 3-for-4 and scored twice for the Twins, who have won 11 of 13 in September to take a stranglehold on the division. With 17 games left, Minnesota’s magic number to clinch is down to 10, as it has an eight-game lead over Chicago.
The Twins have dominated the White Sox in the season series, 12-5, including nine of the last 11. They’ve also won 10 of their last 12 games at U.S. Cellular Field.
Jim Thome added two hits and two RBI, while Denard Span, Danny Valencia and J.J. Hardy each finished with two hits and an RBI. Brian Duensing (9-2) yielded just two runs on nine hits and a walk in six frames to earn the win.
Carlos Quentin hit a two-run homer for the White Sox, who have lost six of eight. Gavin Floyd (10-13) fell to 0-4 with an 8.06 ERA against the Twins this year after allowing six runs, nine hits and two walks in 5 1/3 frames.
Both teams squandered a bases-loaded opportunity early, with the White Sox failing in the second and the Twins in the third. The pitchers matched zeroes until Minnesota finally broke through with a two-out rally in the fifth.
After Floyd retired the first two hitters, Span singled to center and stole second. Orlando Hudson was able to reach on an infield single up the middle, setting up Mauer’s bomb to the seats in right-center for a 3-0 lead.
Chicago squandered a Juan Pierre one-out double in the home half, and the Twins doubled their lead in the sixth.
Michael Cuddyer was hit by a pitch, and Thome sent Cuddyer to third with a single to right. Delmon Young’s sacrifice fly made it 4-0, and Valencia doubled Thome over to third.
Hardy kept the rally going with an RBI single, ending Floyd’s outing, and Chris Sale allowed an run-scoring single to Span for a six-run margin.
Quentin’s two-run homer got the White Sox on the board in the home sixth, but Thome’s two-run single and Valencia’s sacrifice fly in the seventh put Minnesota ahead, 9-2.
Alexei Ramirez tripled and scored on an Alex Rios single to account for the final margin.
The Twins are 42-20 against the AL Central this season, while the White Sox are 30-35…Minnesota is just one game behind the Rays for the majors’ best record…The Twins went 6-for-10 with runners in scoring position, compared to just 2-for-13 for Chicago…Young notched his 100th RBI for the first time in his career.