MINNEAPOLIS — Tommy Milone gave the Minnesota Twins seven superb innings.
All Miguel Sano needed was one at-bat.
Milone struck out seven and Sano hit another monster home run to help the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 3-0 on Wednesday night.
Milone (7-4) gave up three hits and finished seven innings for the first time since July 8. He is 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA in his career against the White Sox.
"It’s fun to pitch in meaningful games in September," Milone said. "We’re going through that right now and we’ve just got to take it one game at a time and continue to build off of it."
Trevor Plouffe added two hits and two RBI and Kevin Jepsen picked up his 10th save for the Twins, who started the day one game behind Texas for the second AL wild card.
Carlos Rodon (6-6) gave up two runs and five hits with four strikeouts and three walks in six innings for the White Sox, who are 1-8 at Target Field this season.
Sano was named AL rookie of the month for August on Wednesday, but was late to the ballpark so he could get an MRI on his ailing hamstring. The exam revealed a strain, but doctors advised that he could play through the injury, and the Twins desperately need his big bat in the middle of the lineup.
It didn’t take him long to make an impact. Sano led off the second inning with a 439-foot blast to dead center that hit halfway up the giant black wall behind the center field fence. It was his 15th of the season in just his 51st game.
"He’s just got a lot of power," Rodon said. "He’s a great hitter. The guy’s been hot."
But when he wasn’t homering, Sano wasn’t of much use. Hesitant to run on his bad leg, Sano slowly jogged down the first base line on a slow roller to first that the White Sox easily turned into a 3-6-1 double play in the fourth inning.
"It’s painful to watch when he has to run," manager Paul Molitor said. "He’s really putting it in low gear, which is OK. … You’re kind of exchanging what might happen, for example, on the double play ball compared to the fact that he might hit one over the centerfield fence."
The homer left Sano’s bat at 108 mph, but Rodon settled down after that. The left-hander struck out Eddie Rosario three times and got out of a two-on, no-out jam in the fourth without allowing a run.
Rodon left after giving up a leadoff single in the seventh to Eduardo Escobar. Catcher Tyler Flowers’ errant pickoff throw to first base when Jose Abreu was not covering helped the Twins load the bases with no outs. Plouffe followed with a two-out, two-run double off Daniel Webb to snap an 0-for-19 skid.
Milone allowed one runner to reach second base in a sparkling outing. It was the second quality start in the last three games for the Twins after going eight straight without one.
"It makes a big difference," Molitor said. "We’ve had to over-extend guys because of the lack of innings we’ve been getting from our starters. So anytime we get them out there through at least six, and hopefully seven, it’s a good night for us."
Star pitching prospect J.O. Berrios has been tearing up Triple-A for the Twins’ affiliate in Rochester. But GM Terry Ryan said the 21-year-old would not be joining the team for the stretch run in September. Ryan said the 160-plus innings Berrios has pitched between Double-A and Triple-A this year were enough.
Twins closer Glen Perkins was given the night off with back spasms. Molitor said an MRI came back clean but Perkins may need a few days to rest before joining the team on its next road trip. … Ryan said RHP Phil Hughes, on the DL with lower back inflammation, will throw a bullpen on Thursday.
Righty Kyle Gibson (9-9, 3.82) will pitch for the Twins in the series finale against RHP Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.85). Gibson has a 0.56 ERA in 16 innings over two starts against the White Sox this season. Samardzija is 3-1 with a 5.12 ERA in his career against the Twins.