MINNEAPOLIS -- White Sox ace Chris Sale fell short of striking out at least 12 batters for a sixth straight start, as he was outdueled by Phil Hughes in the Twins' 6-1 win on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field.
Sale, aiming to be the first pitcher to reach the 12-K plateau in six straight starts, did strike out 10 to become just the fourth pitcher to reach double digits in strikeouts in seven straight outings. But he was also roughed up, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings for his first non-quality start since May 6. Sale has a 6.46 ERA in four outings against the Twins, but a 1.88 ERA against everyone else.
"They swing with authority and you never know when they're going to do it -- first pitch, second pitch," Sale said of the Twins. "They go up there with an idea of what they're going to do and stick to it, it seems like."
Hughes, pitching on his 29th birthday, turned in his fourth straight quality start, allowing just one run on six hits over eight innings. The lone run he gave up came on a solo shot from Adam LaRoche in the second.
"We took advantage of Phil having a nice outing for us," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He was crisp and economical, getting us through eight innings. So to bounce back after a tough loss against Jeff Samardzija and win the series against that guy when he's on a roll is a really good win for us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Twins rally for three-run fourth: After Sale struck out six batters through the first three innings, the Twins finally found some offense against the left-hander. Brian Dozier started it with a leadoff double before scoring on a one-out double from Torii Hunter. After a walk from Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Nunez doubled to left-center to bring home a second run, and Kurt Suzuki followed with a sacrifice fly. The Twins also didn't strike out that frame to snap a streak of 38 innings with a strikeout by Sale.
"I think the fact we've been able to put some runs on the board against him the last few times we faced him gives you a feeling that if you grind it out, you can find a way," Molitor said. "We had some guys step up today for our offense and get some big hits when we got opportunities."
Sale stung by nemesis: The Twins once again got to Sale, handing him his fourth loss of the season. Three of those setbacks have come against Minnesota. Sale, who didn't benefit much from the White Sox defense behind him, had given up just three runs in June before the rough outing. More >
Birthday boy comes up big: Hughes, making his first start on his birthday, delivered with a solid performance to help the Twins earn a much-needed series victory. After posting a 4.96 ERA through his first 11 starts, Hughes has turned it around to put together a 2.42 ERA over his last four outings. More >
Eaton makes multiple gaffes: Center fielder Adam Eaton didn't run out a play in the fifth, thinking it was a routine groundout. Nunez's throw pulled first baseman Kennys Vargas off the bag, meaning Eaton would have been safe had he been hustling. In the seventh, Shane Robinson's hit got under Eaton's glove and rolled behind him, allowing Vargas to score.
"I thought the shortstop caught it and then I thought Vargas caught it at first. With that being said, I need to run every ball out," Eaton said. "I think I've been doing a pretty good job of putting my head down and making sure I get to the bag and running things out and playing hard, but ... kind of unfortunate chain of events. But again, I've got to run every ball out and there's no excuse."
"I wasn't going to leave him out there just to get the record. I mean if he gets it, great, but I didn't leave him out there so he could go get a record." -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura, on leaving Sale in in the seventh
"You don't see that down there." -- Twins top prospect Byron Buxton, who struck out four times, on if he'd ever seen a pitcher like Sale before in the MinorsMore >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sale's streak of 38 consecutive innings with at least one strikeout was snapped in the fourth inning. That was the longest streak since former Twins lefty Johan Santana had 39 straight innings in 2002. Sale became the first pitcher since Randy Johnson to record at least 10 strikeouts in seven consecutive games.
"It's cool to toss around, but it'd be a lot better if we were winning more games, for sure," Sale said.
With two outs in the fifth, Eaton hit a grounder to shortstop Nunez, who made a throw that pulled first baseman Vargas off the bag. But first-base umpire Jim Wolf ruled Vargas touched first before Eaton and ruled him out. The play was challenged by the White Sox, and ultimately the call on the field stood as called to end the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox: Chicago will head to Detroit to begin a four-game series against the Tigers starting at 12:08 p.m. CT on Thursday. Rookie Carlos Rodon, who is 3-1 with a 3.75 ERA on the season, will make the start. Five of his last six outings have been quality starts.
Twins: The Twins have their last day off before the All-Star break on Thursday before heading to Milwaukee for a three-game series that begins Friday at 7:10 CT. Trevor May will get the start for Minnesota. The right-hander has a 1.88 ERA in June.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.