Escobar’s late homer powers Twins to 4-2 victory

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins flailed their way through seven scoreless innings against Chicago’s Reynaldo Lopez, and they made two quick outs in the eighth.

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Then came the rally, capped by another clutch hit by Eduardo Escobar.

Escobar hit a three-run home run to power the Twins to a 4-2 victory on Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader, spoiling a stellar start by the White Sox right-hander Lopez.

“Kind of feel like we stole one a little bit, given the fact that we didn’t have much going the entire game,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

Miguel Sano’s RBI single set up Escobar for his latest damage to his original team. Traded to the Twins in 2012 for starting pitcher Francisco Liriano, Escobar is batting .321 with seven doubles, four homers and 14 RBIs in his past 22 games against the White Sox.

Once again, the dogged and affable Venezuelan seemingly destined for a utility role has dug himself in the middle of the lineup as a valuable everyday player.

He’s on pace for a 30-homer, 60-double season.

“I play hard, 100 percent every day no matter what team I’m facing,” Escobar said. “The most important thing is playing hard.”

Tyler Duffey (1-1) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory, and Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 16 attempts and 11th in a row.

Twins starter Fernando Romero went six innings, allowing a two-out RBI double to Jose Abreu in the fifth but striking out four without a walk. He gave up seven hits.

With a lift from Yoan Moncada’s leadoff home run, Lopez sailed through seven scoreless innings with only one hit allowed. He turned a 2-0 lead over to Nate Jones (2-2), who got two easy outs before Brian Dozier reached on an infield single that was bobbled by third baseman Yolmer Sanchez and preceded by a low throw that Abreu couldn’t scoop at first base.

Eddie Rosario walked. Then Sano’s single finally put the Twins on the scoreboard, before Escobar’s 414-foot drive to straightaway center on a 1-2 pitch.

He pumped his arm and shouted in celebration as he rounded first base to put the Twins ahead and on track for their fourth straight win, before emerging from the dugout with a wide smile for a tip-of-the-helmet curtain call.

“Twins ball has always got something in the backpack,” Romero said. “We never give it up.”

Lopez (2-4) walked four batters and struck out four, allowing only a fourth-inning double by Escobar. He left after 106 pitches, a strong bounce back from his previous turn when he allowed seven hits and eight runs at Cleveland in just 2 2/3 innings.

“It was a really nice outing. Win or lose, that’s something that I can’t control,” Lopez said through an interpreter. “I can just control the execution of my pitches and have command and control of my pitches. As a team, you always want to win. Losses are never easy to digest, but this is a game and you have to be ready for whatever the outcome is.”

GETTING CAUGHT UP

The game was a makeup from April 15, when a weekend snowstorm finished smothering the Twin Cities and forced a third straight postponement. The others were rescheduled for Aug. 20, a single game on what was originally a day off for the teams, and Sept. 28 as a day-night, dual-admission doubleheader. This one was a traditional twinbill, with only one ticket required and just a half-hour between games.

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: Matt Davidson returned from the DL for back spasms and served as the DH in the second game. He missed 12 games.

Twins: RHP Ervin Santana, who had a setback with his middle finger rehabilitation last week in the minor leagues, visited with his surgeon on Monday that yielded no red flags. He’s scheduled to throw again on Thursday.

UP NEXT

White Sox: RHP Lucas Giolito takes the mound in the second game. He lost to the Twins on April 12, the only game that was played as scheduled during that series, after allowing five hits, five walks and four runs in 6 1/3 innings.

Twins: RHP Zack Littell, added as the 26th player for the doubleheader, makes his major league debut in the second game. Acquired last July 30 from the New York Yankees in a trade for starting pitcher Jaime Garcia, the 22-year-old Littell has a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings for Triple-A Rochester. He was promoted from Double-A soon after Romero was called up by the Twins.