White Sox say they won't be counted out yet

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 30, 2011 - 7:41 AM

By blanking the Twins, Chicago moved a game closer to first place, with a series in Detroit looming later this week.

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CHICAGO - For long stretches this season, the Twins told themselves they would have a chance to sneak back into the playoffs if they could just get back to the .500 mark.

Now, all they can do is live vicariously through the White Sox.

The Twins are way out of contention, but after climbing above .500 last weekend for the first time since April, the White Sox still have hopes of chasing down the first-place Tigers.

South Siders followed the out-of-town scoreboard Monday night, while Kevin Slowey and Mark Buehrle waged a pitcher's duel at U.S. Cellular Field.

Chicago's 3-0 victory coupled with Detroit's 9-5 loss to the Royals moved the White Sox five games back in the American League Central. The White Sox moved into second place on Sunday, for the first time since April 12, and they still have six games left with the Tigers, including a series in Detroit this weekend.

"We're definitely not out of the picture," Chicago reliever Jesse Crain said. "Our work's cut out for us, but it's been done before."

Crain should know. He was with the Twins in 2009 when they overcame a seven-game deficit in September, edging the Tigers for the division title.

"We definitely have the pitching to do it," said Crain, who lowered his ERA to 2.29 Monday. "And our hitters have been swinging the bats pretty well lately."

The White Sox have the lowest ERA in the AL since May 7, at 3.53. Offensively, they have obvious holes. Adam Dunn (batting .163) and Alex Rios (.212) have been abysmal. A.J. Pierzynski (broken wrist) and Carlos Quentin (sprained shoulder) are on the disabled list.

But first baseman Paul Konerko remains a force despite a sore hamstring, and three call-ups from Class AAA Charlotte -- Tyler Flowers, Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo -- have added depth to the lineup.

The White Sox scored two runs over seven innings against Slowey (0-3), which was enough because Buehrle (11-6) silenced the Twins for 7 2/3 innings, giving up only four hits.

It was Slowey's best start since Aug. 15, 2010, when he pitched seven no-hit innings against Oakland.

"Slowey was good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He had all of his pitches, he was working fast, he got us off the field. He did everything Buehrle did. I don't think they should have scored on him, we just didn't quite get it done [defensively]."

Left fielder Trevor Plouffe misplayed De Aza's double in the second inning, leading to one run, and third baseman Danny Valencia's poor range opened the door for Chicago's other two runs.

"Danny had a little bit of a struggle at third base," Gardenhire said. "He wasn't moving too well and a couple balls went by him."

Like the Twins, the White Sox kept trying to get back to .500 after digging an early hole. Chicago got there July 29 and then went on a six-game losing skid. The White Sox turned themselves around again by sweeping three games at Target Field, starting a 14-7 stretch.

"They came to our place and waxed us," Gardenhire said. "Put them on a nice little run."

That run continued Monday, and the White Sox hope it doesn't stop.

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