Pavano pitches Twins past Floyd, White Sox
MINNEAPOLIS – The White Sox have a theft prevention problem.
Carl Pavano kept up his recent surge with a complete-game six-hitter for Minnesota in a 4-1 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday night, fueled in part by five stolen bases by the Twins.
Pavano (4-5) walked three, struck out five and recorded six one-pitch outs against the free-swinging White Sox, who had won nine of their previous 13 games. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA over his last three starts, and the Twins have won 10 of their last 12 games.
Delmon Young's two-run single capped a three-run second inning against Gavin Floyd (6-6), who also went the distance but again struggled to keep runners in their place. Floyd has been on the mound for 15 steals this season, third-most in the majors.
"I think I'm pretty much trying as much as possible to keep them at first," Floyd said. "They just pick the right spots. It's just the way it is."
The White Sox, as a team, have also yielded the third-most stolen bases in baseball with 61.
"Everyone knows where we stand," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "It's just part of the game."
The White Sox have allowed at least one steal in four straight games and 10 in their last six games.
Michael Cuddyer had a career-high three steals. Floyd tried a slide-step move each time a runner took off, but it didn't work.
"Unfortunately, those guys know how to run the bases," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "They are pretty fast. Nothing you can do about it."
The Twins also twice bunted for singles, the kind of scrappy approach they strayed from last season — the style that has long drawn the respect and annoyance of Guillen and their rivals.
"They are after you no matter what and not afraid to play," Guillen said. "That's the reason they're in the pennant race every year."
Juan Pierre led off the ninth inning with an infield single, and Alexei Ramirez followed with a double. But Pavano struck out Carlos Quentin and made a quick grab of Paul Konerko's right-back-at-him line drive before Pierzynski grounded out to end the game.
Pavano needed only 96 pitches.
"You've got to tip your hat when he does that," Pierzynski said.
The series opener was wiped out by heavy rain and a thunderstorm on Tuesday, pushing starts back by one day for Floyd and Pavano. Batting practice was cut short by a downpour before this game, too, but the sky cleared and a rainbow appeared above the ballpark to set the stage for a beautiful — if a bit cool — early summer evening.
That's the kind of break the Twins have been enjoying lately, in contrast to all the struggles they endured in the first two months of the season. The White Sox hit the ball on the sweet spot several times, but it went right at the defense almost all night.
Konerko is still playing at an All-Star level, but the prize addition to this year's team, Adam Dunn, has disappointed so far. Alex Rios, another expensive, important part of the lineup, has been in a season-long slump, too.
"I feel our team knows the strike zone pretty well, and they're not afraid to turn it loose," Dunn said. "It's just kind of one of those things: If we're getting hits right there, it's not being brought up."
Dunn drilled a leadoff double in the third inning, but Pavano deftly recovered with three straight groundouts to strand the big slugger on base. That was Dunn's first double since May 18, and he had only three extra-base hits, all homers, in that 25-game span before this one. He's batting .183.
"I feel good. I'm seeing the ball good, which is a big key for me," Dunn said. "Tomorrow's a new day, and we'll see what happens, but I've been feeling good for a week or so."
Floyd, who fell to 4-9 in his career against the Twins with a 5.10 ERA, pitched his first complete game this season. He gave up an RBI double to Danny Valencia in the eighth that padded the home team's lead. Floyd walked two and struck out six, allowing 11 hits.
Notes: White Sox RHP Jake Peavy is scheduled to start Thursday for Triple-A Charlotte on a rehab assignment for his strained right groin. Guillen said Peavy would be evaluated after that game to determine his readiness to rejoin the team — or if he needs another turn. "It's up to how he feels, how many pitches he throws, how hard it was for him to go through it," Guillen said. ... Asked what he needs most if the White Sox turn into buyers at the trade deadline, Guillen said, "I need Rios and Dunn to start hitting." ... Konerko's 13-game hitting streak, the longest active run in the AL, ended.