Twins Daily: Joe Mauer's return spoiled by two blown three-run leads
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Joe Mauer drove in two runs in his return from neck soreness, but the Minnesota Twins blew two different three-run leads on Tuesday night in an 8-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Despite jumping out to two fairly comfortable leads, the Twins were unable to hold on.
Jason Kubel's three-run homer off White Sox starter Zach Stewart put the Twins in front 3-0 in the top of the fourth inning, but Alejandro De Aza answered with a three-run homer of his own in the bottom of the fourth off Anthony Swarzak.
But Chicago responded by batting around and scoring five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning off three different Twins pitchers.
Swarzak was charged with eight runs (six earned) on six hits and a walk in just 4 1/3 innings, and his counterpart Stewart gave up six earned runs on seven hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings.
De Aza went 1-for-3 with four RBIs for the White Sox, and Mauer went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for the Twins after missing a week with neck soreness.
Graced with his second three-run lead of the game, Swarzak was unable to keep the wheels from falling off in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Chicago's rally started with a one-out single by Alexei Ramirez, and the momentum shifted even more when Swarzak fell behind Paul Konerko 2-0, only to see Konerko lace an RBI double down the left-field line.
Alex Rios singled to put runners on the corners, then Swarzak hit Dayan Viciedo to load the bases.
Alejandro De Aza followed by hitting a bouncer to first baseman Michael Cuddyer, who had three options -- throw home to force out the heavy-footed Konerko, take the out at first base, or throw to second in hopes of starting what would have been a difficult double play.
Cuddyer chose the latter, but his throw sailed past Tsuyoshi Nishioka and into left field, allowing two runs to score.
Alex Burnett was summoned to relieve Swarzak, but he walked Tyler Flowers to load the bases, then hit Gordon Beckham in the hand two batters later to put the White Sox up 7-6.
Jose Mijares then came in and gave up an RBI single to Juan Pierre, and the inning finally ended when Flowers was gunned down at home plate by Rene Tosoni.
31-8: The Twins' record against the White Sox in 39 games from May 21, 2009 until July 10, 2011.
0-5: The Twins' record against the White Sox in their last five games.
16: The number of times the Twins have allowed at least five runs in an inning, which is the most in the American League.
0: Hits for the Twins in the final four innings of Tuesday's game off Chicago relievers Will Ohman, Jason Frasor, Chris Sale and Sergio Santos.
• 1B Justin Morneau has been experiencing mild concussion symptoms over the past two days, along with nursing a sore shoulder. On Sunday, Morneau indicated that his concussion issues were a thing of the past, saying he hadn't had a check-up in weeks.
Left-hander Scott Diamond (0-2, 5.68) will make his third career major league start on Wednesday (1:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when he squares off against White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy (5-6, 5.06).
Diamond's numbers in his first two starts aren't fantastic by any means (four strikeouts and three walks in 12 2/3 innings), but he's kept the Twins close in both games. And considering how much he has struggled at Triple-A this season (5.56 ERA in 123 innings), Diamond is probably fortunate to even have a chance to prove himself against major league hitters right now.
Peavy was roughed up for five earned runs on 10 hits and two walks in his first outing against the Twins this season, but he pitched eight shutout innings on Aug. 7, allowing only three baserunners.
• Thursday: Off day
• Friday: @ LA Angels, 9:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (6-11, 4.62) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (15-7, 2.28)
• Saturday: @ LA Angels, 8:05 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (9-13, 5.09) vs. RHP Joel Pineiro (5-6, 5.33)