Just as they were when these teams last met about a month ago, the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox are battling to stay out of the AL Central basement.
These slumping division foes begin a three-game set Tuesday night with the Twins badly struggling at the plate and the White Sox looking to end their road woes.
Chicago was in last place and 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota after winning two of three at Target Field from May 13-15. That gap remains the same, as do their positions in the bottom half of the Central.
The Twins (30-36) have lost seven of 11 while averaging 2.6 runs and batting .177 with runners in scoring position. They were held to three hits for the third time in four games Sunday in a 5-2 loss to Detroit.
"It seems like a week goes by and we're hitting the cover off the ball, then we hit a little slump as a team," said Brian Dozier , who homered Sunday. "I think it's all about big hits, two-out hits. We've been leaving a lot of guys on base."
"It's just a matter of guys getting going," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The White Sox (29-38) can't get going on the road, where they have dropped 12 of 14 and are an AL-worst 13-24. They've averaged 2.8 runs in the last 13 away from home but did avoid a four-game sweep to another last-place team Monday, beating Houston 4-2.
Chicago had lost four straight and 14 of 18 overall
"Obviously, we've been struggling and getting this one and avoiding the streak was big and hopefully we start a new win streak and win (Tuesday)," Jesse Crain said after tying a franchise record for relievers with his 27th straight scoreless appearance.
Dayan Viciedo 's bases-loaded triple in the sixth inning was the difference, but he's 4 for 44 in his last 12 road games.
"It's just one of those that you hope gets him going a little bit because he's been missing out," manager Robin Ventura said.
Chicago hasn't won a series on the road since last month's visit to Minneapolis.
Adam Dunn homered three times in that set and is batting .343 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in his last nine games at Target Field. Dunn has five hits in his last 10 at-bats against Twins scheduled starter Mike Pelfrey (3-6, 6.12 ERA).
The right-hander is 0-3 in his past seven outings. Pelfrey, though, provided a second straight quality start Wednesday as he gave up three runs and struck out seven in a season-best seven innings of a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia.
Things didn't go as well against Chicago on May 15. He was tagged for five runs and eight hits - including homers by Dunn and Viciedo - in four-plus innings of a 9-4 loss.
Dylan Axelrod was the winner, giving up three runs in 5 1-3 innings, and opposes Pelfrey again Tuesday.
Axelrod (3-4, 4.26) is coming off seven days' rest, given extra time off after a dreadful outing last Monday. The third-year right-hander allowed six runs, four walks and eight hits - including three homers - over four-plus innings in a 10-6 victory over Toronto. Axelrod had a 2.66 ERA in his previous four outings.
Chicago has won six consecutive series at Target Field, going 15-4.
|Chicago White Sox|
|June 15, 2013||Alejandro De Aza||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|June 05, 2013||Jake Peavy||15-Day DL||Fractured rib - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 04, 2013||Jake Peavy||Day-to-Day||Left game - Rib pain|
|May 30, 2013||Dewayne Wise||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 22, 2013||Chris Sale||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|May 02, 2013||Dewayne Wise||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|June 11, 2013||Jared Burton||Day-to-Day||Groin injury|
|June 10, 2013||Aaron Hicks||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
|June 01, 2013||Justin Morneau||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|May 29, 2013||Trevor Plouffe||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 29, 2013||Trevor Plouffe||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 26, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||15-Day DL||Head injury|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Another big hit from Ryan Doumit turned what could've been an ugly loss into a win for the Minnesota Twins .
Doumit hit a go-ahead double in the eighth inning, leading Minnesota over the Chicago White Sox 7-5 on Tuesday night.
Joe Mauer homered and Trevor Plouffe had an RBI single in Minnesota's four-run first inning off Dylan Axelrod .
After making baserunning mistakes, errors and throwing wild pitches while blowing the lead, Doumit's hit was very much needed.
"It's nice to be the guy who came up with the big hit," said Doumit, who also has delivered clutch hits in wins over Seattle and Washington this month. "It's a nice little streak that I'm on, there's no doubt. I don't take anything for granted. Hopefully I can keep it going."
The White Sox came back to tie it at 5 in the eighth when Alex Rios worked a leadoff walk from reliever Jared Burton (1-4), stole second and scored on Paul Konerko 's single that bounced off the pitcher's mound and into center field.
Clete Thomas walked with two outs against Ramon Troncoso (0-2) in the eighth. Mauer followed with a single - his third hit of the game - and Doumit drove a double to left center that gave the Twins the lead.
"They had a mishap or two out there on the bases as well, a couple of wild pitches that let us get some people in scoring position," Konerko said. "When you break it all down it was just the one hit there at the end that did it. Everything was even probably besides that. That was it right there."
The double was also Doumit's third hit of the game.
Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his 17th save.
Konerko had four hits for Chicago, which has lost five of six and 13 of its last 15 on the road, and Conor Gillaspie had a two-run homer in the second off Twins starter Mike Pelfrey .
With the White Sox in last place and struggling to score runs, questions are being asked about trading veterans and rebuilding the team. Konerko says, not so fast.
"I still think there's some good to come out of this at some point," Konerko said. "It hasn't been right now, it hasn't been before now, but we still have good baseball in us. We just haven't shown it."
Coming off elbow surgery that wrecked his 2012 season, Pelfrey pitched into the seventh inning for his third straight start. He allowed four runs on 10 hits and left with runners on first and third with nobody out in the seventh.
"It stinks that I got spotted a four-run lead and slowly gave that back," Pelfrey said. "Luckily, Doumit came up with a huge hit. Offense is always welcome."
Pedro Florimon added an RBI single for Minnesota.
Axelrod was pitching on seven days rest after allowing six runs in his previous start. After a rough beginning on Tuesday, he settled down and retired 11 of 12 batters at one point and allowed five runs - four earned - in six innings.
"Just kind of changed my approach. Threw a few more fastballs after the first inning" Axelrod said. "It was almost like they were kind of diving on me. Just changed it up and it worked out well. It's unfortunate what happened in the first."
Konerko's four-hit game was his first since July 24 of last season and raised his batting average to .248.
Mauer's homer barely cleared the left-field wall and was his first with runners on base since Sept. 1 of last season.
The Twins had lost seven of their last 11 heading into Tuesday and were averaging fewer than three runs during the stretch.
"We kind of went silent after the first," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We just kind of hung on from there. Coming up late there is huge."
Notes: Twins CF Aaron Hicks is running in the outfield and making progress rehabbing from a strained left hamstring. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Hicks - on the disabled list since June 10 - will probably have to complete a rehab assignment before returning to the Twins. ... Gillaspie is now second among AL rookies with five home runs. ... A bus transporting the Twins Elizabethton, Tenn., rookie league affiliate was involved in a bus crash that killed a driver traveling the wrong way down a highway in Florida. ... Josh Willingham was back in left field for Minnesota after missing two games with a sore knee. ... Coming off a start where he fanned 14, didn't allow an earned run, but lost 2-1 at Houston, Chris Sale (5-5, 2.43 ERA) starts for Chicago on Wednesday. ... The Twins will counter with Kevin Correia (5-4, 3.97 ERA), who is 1-5 since April 23.