Plouffe, Hunter homer, help Nolasco, Twins beat White Sox
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) After a terrible first week of the season, the Minnesota Twins have played their way back to .500.
Trevor Plouffe and Torii Hunter homered, helping Ricky Nolasco win in his return to the rotation as the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3 Saturday.
''We were able to kind of hold the fort down after things looked pretty miserable, to be honest, in the beginning,'' Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said.
The White Sox lost their fourth in a row and have been outscored 35-8 in that span.
Plouffe also lined an RBI single with the bases loaded in the fifth that broke a 3-all tie. Reliever Carlos Rodon threw two hard-breaking sliders to get two strikes on Plouffe, then left a fastball up.
''You have to put the ball in play,'' Plouffe said after the Twins won for the seventh time in 10 games. ''I couldn't strike out there. I had to put the ball in play.''
In his first start since coming off the disabled list with a sore elbow, Nolasco (1-1) held the White Sox to three runs and eight hits over five innings. He had been out since April 11.
The Twins used five relievers to blank Chicago after Nolasco left. Glen Perkins pitched the ninth and remains perfect in eight save chances.
Hunter hit a two-run homer off Hector Noesi (0-3) in the third. Hunter connected for the second time since rejoining the Twins in the offseason.
''He hung a slider, something I could capitalize on,'' Hunter said. ''Kirby Puckett always told me, `Hey, that's a gift from God. Don't miss your blessing,''' Hunter said.
Avisail Garcia and J.B. Shuck each had two hits and an RBI for the White Sox.
The White Sox lost three runners on the bases in the early innings. Shuck was thrown out trying to stretch a second-inning single into a double. Kurt Suzuki threw out Garcia and Alexei Ramirez attempting to steal second in the third and fourth, respectively.
''For us, we just need something to fall through when we get a lot of guys on,'' Ventura said. ''We had some opportunities, we're just not cashing in on them right now. Eventually that's going to happen for us.''
Rodon began his third major-league appearance by walking Joe Mauer and giving up the single to Plouffe. After that, he settled in and didn't allow a run in three innings.
''You walk the first one, you give up a base hit, and after that he's going to give up hits,'' Ventura said. ''That's going to happen, but battling and doing the work that he did today is good to see.''
SUZUKI IN THE MIDDLE
Molitor said he likes to hit Suzuki lower in the order instead of fifth, where he's been slotted for three straight games. But with young sluggers Oswaldo Arcia and Kennys Vargas struggling, Suzuki is being asked to man the middle for now.
''I can always stick him in there because I know he'll give me good at-bats,'' Molitor said.
On Saturday, Suzuki singled and delivered a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
White Sox: CF Adam Eaton missed his second straight game with the flu. ... DH Adam LaRoche also wasn't feeling well, but played.
Twins: Nolasco threw 76 pitches, and most importantly, felt good. ''Huge sigh of relief to be able to throw pain-free,'' he said. ''That was the main important thing today.''
White Sox: John Danks (1-2, 5.64) starts Sunday as Chicago tries to avoid a four-game sweep.
Twins: Mike Pelfrey (2-0, 2.25) looks to win his third straight start. In seven career starts against the White Sox, he is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA.