MINNEAPOLIS -- Chris Sale produced his usual strong pitching performance to help the White Sox win their fifth straight series against the Minnesota Twins.
There were bonuses for the White Sox on this steamy afternoon, too. Sale didn't have to work very hard, never facing more than four batters in any inning, and the lagging lineup snapped to life with a season-high 21 hits.
Contact information ( * required )
Sale's 7 smooth innings were supported by Adam Dunn's 3-run homer, and the White Sox beat the Twins 12-5 Wednesday.
"Any time you go out there and get that kind of run support it kind of calms you down a little bit," said Sale, the American League's earned run average leader.
The White Sox matched their season high with a 2½-game lead in the AL Central, ahead of Cleveland.
Sale (9-2) struck out five and walked one with 6 hits and 2 runs allowed. The Twins talked before the game about trying to disrupt his rhythm and make him sweat on a day when the temperature moved toward the 90s, but they were unsuccessful.
"It's hard to keep saying the same things over and over again, but he's just a mature kid," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Dunn had 3 hits and 4 RBI, including his 24th home run of the season, and recently-acquired Kevin Youkilis went 3-for-4 and drove in 2 runs. Alex Rios also had 3 hits and a homer.
"He's going to help us in so many ways," Rios said of Youkilis, who fouled off three pitches before his single right before Dunn went deep.
The third, fourth and fifth hitters were 10-for-15 with 8 RBI, mostly against Twins starter Nick Blackburn (4-5). The right-hander watched his ERA balloon to 7.74 after 5 rough innings for the Twins, giving up 9 hits and 6 runs.
"We haven't been swinging the bats well the last couple weeks so hopefully today it gets everybody's confidence back up and we start rolling again," Dunn said.
Ventura gave regulars Paul Konerko, Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo a rest, but an offense that managed only 13 runs over the previous five games finally had a breakout game. Dunn ended an 0-for-24 skid with his homer, and the White Sox posted a double-digit score for the first time in 16 games. Sale pitched that one, too, June 9 against Houston.
"He goes straight to what he has to do, and does it with power. He's unbelievable," Rios said.
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, now 7-for-73 against left-handers this season with 22 strikeouts, talked his way into the lineup by telling manager Ron Gardenhire before the game he wanted "a piece of this kid," but a seventh-inning single was the only dent he put on yet another stellar performance by the lanky left-hander Sale with the whipsaw, sidearm delivery.
"He's got some funk to it, and his breaking ball, for it to be a strike it pretty much has to start behind you," Morneau said. "I think he's got a pretty good feel for that also. When he needs to get a strike with it, he can. When he's ahead in the count and he feels like he needs you to chase, he's also good at that one."