MINNEAPOLIS -- It wasn't easy, but the White Sox were able to rally late after giving up a go-ahead three-run homer to Eduardo Escobar in the eighth inning. Down to their last out in the ninth, Melky Cabrera connected on a game-tying RBI single to keep them alive. And after getting out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth, the White Sox were lifted by a go-ahead RBI double from Dioner Navarro in the 10th inning to beat the Twins, 6-5, on Saturday at Target Field.
Avisail Garcia sparked the 10th-inning rally for Chicago with a leadoff double off reliever Fernando Abad, who is a trade candidate for Minnesota. Two batters later, Navarro connected on the RBI double to left.
It came after Escobar's go-ahead three-run homer against his former team with two outs in the eighth. The Twins were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position prior to Escobar's blast on a first-pitch fastball from Matt Albers. But the lead was brief, as the White Sox were able to tie it in the ninth on a two-out RBI single from Cabrera to hand Brandon Kintzler his first blown save in nine opportunities.
"It's a disappointing game but it was entertaining," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We stayed with it and it took a big three-run homer from Esco to put us in the lead. Kintzler and Abad, going three days in a row, they got behind some really good hitters. So it's a tough one when you have a chance to win with three outs to go."
Chicago was also helped by an impressive homecoming from Justin Morneau, who played in Minnesota from 2003-13, while being named an All-Star four times and winning the 2006 American League MVP. Morneau, who also singled in Friday's series opener, showed off his old form against Twins lefty Tommy Milone, hitting a two-out RBI double off the right-field wall in the fourth and a solo shot in the sixth. Twins fans gave Morneau an ovation as he rounded the bases.
"Those guys were swinging it tonight. You can't say enough about the guys that are in there, knowing that Fraz [Todd Frazier] is out and Eat [Adam Eaton], would be nice to give him that whole day," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It really wasn't a whole lot of moves to be made at that point.
"But Justin, it's a big one with him being here. It's his first time back here as a player, not being with the Twins. To hit a homer is special for him we know and Melky has been swinging it. He's been as consistent as anybody for us."
Cabrera paced the offense for the White Sox, as he also provided a two-run double with two outs in the fifth to back White Sox right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who was saddled with a no-decision after Escobar's homer. Gonzalez went seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits. He gave up the unearned run in the third with the help of Byron Buxton's speed and three White Sox errors. Buxton also had an RBI groundout in the seventh.
"Staying aggressive. Not trying to do too much, staying within myself, making sure the ball is down and changing speeds," Gonzalez said. "That's been my goal, changing speeds. My cutter is working good and Navarro makes it easier. It's fun to be around him."
Gonzalez outlasted Milone, who went 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits with three strikeouts. Milone has been mentioned as a trade candidate for the Twins, but saw his ERA rise to 5.13.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Two-out tenacity: The first three runs scored by the White Sox all arrived after Milone retired the first two in the inning. Garcia doubled and Morneau followed with a double to tie the game in the fourth, and it was singles from Tim Anderson and Saladino that set up Cabrera's two-run, go-ahead double in the fifth. Cabrera delivered with two outs again in the ninth, bringing in Anderson, who is hitting .435 against the Twins.
Escobar goes deep: Escobar came through with a big hit against his former team with his go-ahead three-run blast in the eighth. It was the fourth homer of the year for Escobar, who played with the White Sox from 2011-12, and his first since July 10. Escobar's home run left the bat at 101 mph and went 390 feet.
Bullpen falters: After Gonzalez battled through seven stellar innings, the bullpen tandem of Dan Jennings and Albers imploded. Jennings walked Joe Mauer to open the eighth, and one out later, Albers walked Brian Dozier. One out after that free pass, Escobar connected on a first-pitch blast to give the Twins the lead.
Buxton's speed pays off: Buxton's speed allowed him to a score a run all by himself in the third, when he reached on a throwing error from third baseman Tyler Saladino on a close play at first. Buxton promptly stole second and Navarro's throw sailed into center, and Buxton never hesitated trying to score on the play, catching center fielder J.B. Shuck off-guard. The throw home beat Buxton, but he made a leap over Navarro as the ball came out of the White Sox catcher's glove for a run-scoring error. In the next inning, Buxton made a sensational running catch in left-center to rob Cabrera of extra bases. Buxton covered 85 feet, maxing out at 21.7 mph, with a route efficiency of 97.3 percent, per Statcast™.
"I was just being aggressive," Buxton said of his run-scoring play. "I saw the ball rolling into center field and I just kept going from there. I was slowing down, seeing the center fielder crashing in, but once I saw him wave me on, I tried to kick into gear and get to home plate." More >
"That's probably not the pitch you want to throw to him with the way he's hitting right now. He capitalized on a bad pitch." -- Milone, on Morneau's homer on a 3-1 fastball in the sixth
"I have to say thanks to Robin and Coop because they gave me the responsibility to pitch in that inning and that situation. Despite all the troubles I got the job done." -- Michael Ynoa, who earned his first Major League victory despite throwing only eight of 24 pitches for strikes in the ninth and stranding the bases loaded More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his homer against the Twins, Morneau has now homered against all 30 Major League teams. This was his fifth career game against his former team.
TWINS HELP THE CENTRAL MARK
The White Sox have a 17-22 record against the AL Central. They are 9-2 against the Twins.
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox:Carlos Rodon returns from the disabled list to finish off the weekend set at Target Field, with a first pitch of 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday. Rodon has been out of action since a start on July 5 against the Yankees, although he did make one Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte.
Twins: Right-hander Ervin Santana (3-9, 3.78 ERA) is set to start for the Twins in the series finale on Sunday. Santana has been on a roll recently, posting a 2.02 ERA over his last seven starts. He's also coming off his second complete game this month, but he picked up the hard-luck loss in a 2-0 defeat to the Braves on Tuesday.