CHICAGO -- Hector Santiago threw 6 2/3 solid innings, and he was backed by a two-run homer from Kennys Vargas and a four-run sixth, to lead the Twins to a 7-2 win over the White Sox in the series opener on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Santiago, facing his former team, allowed only three hits, but he walked five, while striking out six, and improving to 4-1 with a 2.76 ERA. Both runs came in the third on a pair of RBI singles from Tyler Saladino and Jose Abreu.
"I'll take it, but the five walks is something you don't want," Santiago said. "But if I can go out there and give the team a chance to win and compete through some tough innings with walks, and get a chance to win, I'll take it every time."
White Sox right-hander Mike Pelfrey, also pitching against his former club, couldn't hold the lead, allowing three runs in the fourth. Max Kepler brought home the first run on an RBI single before Vargas delivered a two-run homer that gave a Minnesota a lead it wouldn't relinquish. Pelfrey lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk.
"It's never good to give up three, but especially after we score two," Pelfrey said. "I'm pretty disappointed in myself for that. That kills the team. That's not good."
Minnesota broke the game open with four runs in the sixth against relievers Dan Jennings and Chris Beck. The Twins had six hits in the frame, but only one went for extra bases.
"We just tried to stop the bleeding as quickly as we could to keep us in the ballgame," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "I thought [Jennings] did a nice job of taking care of that. Got into a little trouble the next inning and then we just tried to patch it together the rest of the game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Vargas smashes rocket homer: Vargas crushed his two-run homer in the fourth, as it had an exit velocity of 114.7 mph and went a projected 406 feet, according to Statcast™. It was the hardest-hit homer by exit velocity in Vargas' career, topping his previous best of 113.1 mph against the Royals on April 16, 2015. More >
"I was just looking for something good up in the zone," Vargas said. "I was just looking for good contact and looking for the gap. And I hit the homer. You could tell with the bat sound, it was gone."
Errors help key four-run sixth:Ehire Adrianza helped give the Twins insurance runs, coming through with a two-run single with one out before advancing to second on an error from right fielder Avisail Garcia. Byron Buxton followed with an RBI single and also sent to second on an error, this one by center fielder Willy Garcia. Joe Mauer plated Buxton with a single to cap the scoring.
"Obviously, when you're missing two of your key guys, you never know how it's going to play out. I was questioning my lineup the first few innings. But we bounced back with Kep getting a big hit and Kennys' home run. I thought adding on was huge." -- manager Paul Molitor, on the Twins winning without Miguel Sano (suspension) and Brian Dozier (sprained ankle)
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Buxton recorded his fifth career three-hit game, and four of those have come against the White Sox.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes (4-1, 4.32 ERA) is set to start in the second game of the series against the White Sox on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Hughes is coming off his best start of the season, limiting the Red Sox to one run over 6 2/3 innings.
White Sox: Left-hander Derek Holland (3-2, 2.02) has been the team's best starter so far and will look to turn in another strong outing in the middle game against the Twins on Wednesday. Holland has five quality starts in his previous six outings.