Blackburn struggles as Twins fall to White Sox

Blackburn struggles as Twins fall to White Sox

Blackburn struggles as Twins fall to White Sox
CHICAGO -- Nothing seemed to click at the same time for the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field while getting swept for the eighth time this season.

Minnesota starters threw just seven combined innings Monday and Wednesday against the White Sox. Cole De Vries' quality start Tuesday was blown by the bullpen, and the Twins finished the series 3-for-31 with runners in scoring position, after going 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position Wednesday in an 8-2 loss.

"We can go on and on," said manager Ron Gardenhire. "Just a terrible series by us."

The Twins were outscored 26-10 in the three-game set, which ended with a case of the "terrible twos."

Starter Nick Blackburn surrendered exactly two runs in four straight innings after tossing a scoreless first frame Wednesday. The loss came one day after all five Minnesota pitchers who entered allowed at least two runs.

Blackburn couldn't build off a promising July 20 outing against the Royals, when he allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings. The White Sox sprayed 10 hits and scored eight runs off Blackburn in 4 1/3 innings. Twins pitchers have allowed 10 or more hits in five straight games.

"When you're falling behind, you can't continue just to flop up curveballs and changeups," Blackburn said. "At some point, you've got to try to let them hit it at somebody. A lot of those at-bats today, they were just falling in."

The day started exactly as it did Monday, with the Twins loading the bases for Josh Willingham, who grounded into a double play to score the game's first run.

Minnesota stranded a runner at third base to end the first inning and lost the lead when Dayan Viciedo hit a two-run base single off Blackburn in the second inning, sparking the first two-run frame for the White Sox. Viciedo knocked in four of the White Sox's first six runs, following his two-run single with a two-run home run and a double.

"They whacked it and they pounded us, scored a lot of runs, and we got dominated here," Gardenhire said.

Blackburn allowed his next two runs in the third on an RBI single by Kevin Youkilis and a sacrifice fly by Paul Konerko, which gave the White Sox a 4-1 advantage. Ryan Doumit caught Konerko's ball in left field and thought there were three outs, trotting in toward the dugout while Alejandro De Aza scored from third base. Konerko's ball was hit far enough to left field that it was unlikely Doumit could have gotten De Aza at home.

Blackburn fell to 1-2 with a 9.67 ERA against the American League Central this season. His ERA jumped from 7.46 to 7.99 in the loss.

"They definitely swung the bats pretty well this series," Blackburn said. "We had a game plan going in there and trying to make them uncomfortable and mix it up and all that stuff, and we just weren't able to execute."

The first three Twins runners reached base in the fourth inning, but Minnesota scored only one run to cut the lead in half on an RBI double by Justin Morneau. White Sox starter Jake Peavy then struck out the side against a Twins team hitting .140 with runners in scoring position over their last six games.

"We had second and third, no outs, and we struck out three times without swinging at strikes," Gardenhire said. "Those things aren't going to help you win ballgames."

The Twins forced Peavy to throw 121 pitches in six innings, though he held the Twins to just two runs. Peavy said the run support helped him fight through the heat, which also affected the Twins' Alexi Casilla, who left in the eighth inning with slight lightheadedness.

The Twins have faced Peavy eight times, notching 54 hits with just 20 runs in that span.

"I was tired," Peavy said. "It was so humid. One of the hotter days I can ever recall pitching here. One of those days you really have to make sure you get rest into it."

The Twins have dropped nine of 13 games since the All-Star break and fell to 4-14 against the White Sox in their last 18 games.

Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.