For Josh Willingham, that flub in the fourth was an eternity ago when he came to the plate in a big spot for the Minnesota Twins.
It was just about coming up with another clutch hit.
Willingham atoned for an earlier misplay with a tiebreaking three-run double in Minnesota’s four-run seventh inning, leading the Twins to a 5-3 victory over the slumping Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
“Regardless of what happened in the game you want to come through when you get a chance to hit with runners in scoring position and I was able to come through today,” he said.
Aaron Hicks singled in a run and Justin Morneau had a bases-loaded walk as Minnesota swept a pair of weekend games against Chicago to stretch its winning streak to four. Friday night’s series opener was postponed by rain.
Scott Diamond (1-1) pitched six effective innings, keeping the Twins in the game while they struggled to score against Gavin Floyd. Diamond allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits in his first start since he made his season debut in a loss to the New York Mets on April 13.
“I was just back down the zone. That was the biggest focus after last game,” he said. “I was able to just locate down with most of my stuff.”
Jeff Keppinger had two RBIs for the White Sox, who have lost three straight and nine of 12. Adam Dunn hit his third homer, snapping a career-worst hitless streak of 31 consecutive at-bats.
“It’s still early, you don’t want to keep losing games like this, but we’re not worried,” outfielder Alex Rios said. “We’re a talented team and we’re going to be able to compete in this division and in other divisions. We just have to put a few good at-bats together and we’ll be fine. We’ll get out of this.”
Chicago led 2-1 before Hicks drove in Trevor Plouffe with a single against Matt Lindstrom (1-1) in the seventh. Minnesota went on to load the bases when Donnie Veal issued a two-out walk to Joe Mauer, and Willingham drove the first pitch from Jesse Crain deep to center to give the Twins a 5-2 lead.
Dunn connected against Josh Roenicke in the bottom half, belting a drive to center, but Jared Burton worked the eighth and Glen Perkins finished for his fifth save in five chances.
“Our bullpen came in and did a really nice job of shutting it down at the end,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The White Sox wasted a terrific start by Floyd, who allowed one run and three hits over six innings in a marked turnaround from his shaky beginning to the season. The right-hander dropped each of his first three starts while yielding 11 earned runs in 15 2-3 innings.
“It’s a bittersweet thing,” Floyd said. “You’re happy that you threw well, but unhappy that we lost, but we just put it behind us and work on the next start.”
Chicago went ahead 1-0 in the fourth, making the most of a miscue by Willingham. Alejandro De Aza led off with a drive to left that went off Willingham’s glove as he backpedaled to try to make the catch.
De Aza, who was credited with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scampered home on Keppinger’s bouncer to shortstop. The White Sox then put two more runners on, but Dunn struck out and Rios was cut down trying to steal third in an inning-ending double play.
“Some guys made some big pitches in some big situations on both teams, and we finally come up with a big hit with Hammer driving one in the gap,” Gardenhire said.
Dunn went 1 for 4 with three strikeouts. The burly slugger is 7 for 65 with three walks and 26 strikeouts in 17 games after leading the majors with 105 walks and 222 strikeouts last season.
NOTES: Mauer went 0 for 3 with two walks, ending a 10-game hitting streak. ... Willingham has driven in at least one run in each of the last four games. ... Twins OF Chris Parmelee was out of the lineup but was available after he was hit by a fastball from White Sox reliever Matt Thornton on Saturday. “He definitely took a good one right in the elbow,” Gardenhire said. “He’s sore.” ... RHP Kevin Correia (1-1, 2.95 ERA) is slated to get the ball for the Twins when they host Miami in the opener of a two-game set on Monday night. Correia will be opposed by Ricky Nolasco (0-2, 3.86). ... White Sox RHP Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 4.70) faces Indians RHP Justin Masterson (3-1, 1.67) on Monday night in the opener of a three-game series. ... Sunday was the anniversary of Philip Humber’s perfect game for the White Sox at Seattle.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.