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A sweeping success for Sox
It's too early to make a major statement, but the White Sox settled some personal issues Tuesday night.
They completed a two-game sweep of three-time defending American League Central champion Minnesota with a 3-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field and improved their league-best record to 10-4.
"There's a long way to go, but there are good signs," said Paul Konerko, who extended his major-league-leading home-run total to seven when he launched a one-out solo shot in the sixth off Minnesota starter Brad Radke.
Joe Crede extended his hitting streak to 10 games. His two hits included a double that sailed over the head of four-time Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter in the fifth, snapping a scoreless tie.
For added measure, Crede made sure rookie catcher Joe Mauer wasn't about to block his path by sticking out his left hand as he crossed home plate on Scott Podsednik's sacrifice fly.
"If [Mauer] is going to block the plate, I'm going to do whatever I can to score," Crede said.
Crede is 11-for-29 (.379) after starting the season 2-for-18.
The Sox won for the second consecutive time without drawing a walk. But they haven't forgotten the art of moving runners over, as Crede moved into scoring position on Juan Uribe's sacrifice bunt in the fifth.
"It sounds like little girls' baseball, but it's the way we have to play," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
The blend of finesse and power was too much for the Twins, who won't get another shot at the Sox until they return to Chicago on Aug. 15.
In further frustrating their division rivals, Orlando Hernandez and two relievers held the Twins scoreless through eight innings despite allowing 12 singles.
But Shingo Takatsu's troubles continued when he allowed a run in the ninth. Left-hander Damaso Marte bailed him out by retiring Mauer and Terry Tiffee to end the game.
Hernandez turned in six bizarre innings of shutout ball. He allowed 10 singles, issued one walk and hit a batter, putting at least one runner on base in each inning he worked. The last time a pitcher hurled six innings or less of shutout ball while allowing 10 hits or more occurred in August 1983, when the Cubs' Chuck Rainey hurled five innings of 10-hit ball against St. Louis.
Hernandez saved his best escape act for the sixth after allowing consecutive singles to Jacque Jones, Lew Ford and Michael Cuddyer with one out.
With reliever Cliff Politte warming up, Hernandez induced Nick Punto to pop out to short. A crowd of 18,310 showed its approval when Timo Perez caught Shannon Stewart's shallow fly in right for the final out.
Hernandez's outing hardly mirrored his performance of April 8, when he limited the Twins to one run over seven innings in a victory at the Metrodome.
The Sox missed a chance in the first to give Hernandez a cushion. Podsednik led off with a single and moved to third on Tadahito Iguchi's single. Carl Everett followed with a fly to center field. Podsednik, playing his second game after missing five games because of a strained right groin, tagged up and headed toward home.
Mauer blocked home plate and Podsednik elected to try to slide past him and stick his hand between Mauer's legs.
Podsednik slid past Mauer, but plate umpire Brian O'Nora didn't make a call. Mauer noticed this and immediately headed toward Podsednik and tagged him.
O'Nora called Podsednik out, prompting a brief quarrel from Guillen and Podsednik.