MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Last in the American League in hitting and scoring, the Chicago White Sox started to find some offense this week in Minnesota.
Adam Dunn’s big bat has been a key part of that.
Dunn homered twice, doubled and drove in five runs, powering the White Sox past the Twins 9-4 on Wednesday.
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The nine runs are a season high.
“Pitching obviously wins you games, but as far as the energy level and things like that, if the team is hitting, then the energy level will be up,” Dunn said, adding: “Hopefully it carries over and this is the start of something good.”
Dunn hit a pair of two-run shots for his 35th career multihomer game. He’s hit three home runs in the past two games and has nine this year.
Dayan Viciedo also went deep for the second straight day, helping Dylan Axelrod (1-3) pick up his first victory this season. Dunn would’ve had four homers in the series if Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks hadn’t made a leaping catch over the wall.
“He’s a guy you’re excited to see up. When he gets hot, it’s fun to watch,” Axelrod said.
Mike Pelfrey (3-4) was hit hard yet again, failing to record an out in the fifth inning. Dunn was the last batter he faced, delivering an RBI double that put the White Sox ahead 4-2.
The 33-year-old slugger hit both of his homers with two outs, in the third off a changeup from Pelfrey in an eight-pitch at-bat and in the eighth off Josh Roenicke.
“He’s a strong young man and you throw the ball up there, he’s going to get you,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Dunn is 8 for 28 with seven walks and two homers in his career against Pelfrey.
“I obviously didn’t pitch in as effectively as I should have. He made me pay for it,” Pelfrey said.
Dunn finished 3 for 4 with a walk and still has the third-worst batting average in the majors, at .156, for players with the minimum amount of at-bats.
But the White Sox didn’t sign him to a $56 million contract to hit singles, and the 6-foot-6, 285-pound first baseman can still drive a ball deep with the best of them.
“He’s been working hard all year to do what he does, and finally it looks like he’s found something right. That’s good because he helps everyone,” said teammate Alex Rios, who scored three runs on a 3-for-4 afternoon.
Nine of Dunn’s 20 hits this season are home runs. After leading the majors with 222 strikeouts last year, Dunn has fanned 48 times in 2013, another 200-plus pace. Houston’s Chris Carter has 60 strikeouts, tops in either league.
For the White Sox, batting .236 with 136 runs in 38 games, both last in the AL, this resurgence couldn’t have come soon enough. Dunn was pleased more by where the balls he hit, to center field and left, went than how hard he hit them.
“I’ve had a couple of those pitches in a couple of these previous games that I rolled over and hit to second base,” Dunn said.
Rios has at least one hit in his past 10 games and is batting .390 during the streak.
“That’s why he’s batting third. He does a lot of good things,” manager Robin Ventura said.
Axelrod finished 5 1-3 innings, allowing nine hits, three runs and one walk while fighting through a leg cramp in the sixth.
The right-hander struck out four, including Ryan Doumit and Oswaldo Arcia in consecutive at-bats in the fifth after Josh Willingham was hit by a pitch and Justin Morneau singled to start the inning.
Jamey Carroll and Joe Mauer each had three hits, and Morneau added a pair of singles on his 32nd birthday. Eduardo Escobar homered off Axelrod, Willingham drove in two runs and Carroll added an RBI single against reliever Matt Lindstrom.
Mauer’s 14-game hitting streak is his longest in four years and the third-longest of his career. Morneau has at least one hit in his past 11 games, batting .422 in that span.
Pelfrey’s hold on a spot in the rotation has been slipping. The right-hander, barely one year removed from Tommy John surgery, saw his ERA spike to 6.57, the third-highest in the majors among those with a qualified number of innings.
Opponents are batting .339 against him, also the third-highest in the majors. Pelfrey allowed eight hits, five runs and two walks while striking out three.
NOTES: Twins RHP Vance Worley’s ERA (7.15) and batting average against (.379) are still worse than Pelfrey’s. … The White Sox sent 2B Gordon Beckham (broken left wrist) and INF Angel Sanchez (back injury) on minor league rehab assignments. … Rios is a .372 career hitter at Target Field. His 42 hits here are behind only Miguel Cabrera for the most among Twins opponents. … The Twins start a three-game series against the Red Sox on Friday, with Worley facing Clay Buchholz, who is unbeaten in six decisions this season. … The White Sox begin a four-game road series against the Angels on Thursday. LHP Jose Quintana (2-1, 3.72 ERA) will pitch against RHP Jerome Williams (2-1, 3.06) of the Angels.