Willingham's two blasts can't withstand bullpen meltdown

The Twins' home-run leader did his part with two homers and four RBI, but the White Sox rallied with four in the seventh and five in the eighth.

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CHICAGO - Twins righthander Cole De Vries thought the solo home run he gave up to Paul Konerko in the fifth inning was going to cost him. Then Josh Willingham, in the midst of a terrific power-hitting season, clubbed a three-run homer in the sixth, and the Twins led 4-2.

And De Vries said he thought to himself: "Now we got this."

The Twins bullpen had to build a bridge to the ninth inning. That bridge went nowhere.

Chicago carved up Twins relievers for nine runs over their final two at-bats and surged to an 11-4 victory at U.S. Cellular Field that thrilled an announced crowd of 34,715. The stunned Twins now have to avoid being swept in the three-game series when the teams meet Wednesday afternoon.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire needed three pitchers to get through the seventh, when Chicago scored four runs. The White Sox added five more in the eighth to make it a laugher.

Adam Dunn was 3-for-5 with his 30th homer and four RBI, and Paul Konerko was 4-for-4 with a homer.

De Vries held Chicago to two runs, one earned, over six innings and Willingham hammered two home runs, giving him 25 for the season -- only four shy of his career high of 29 hit last season with Oakland.

It was their show until the Sox flipped the script.

"It's a little difficult," De Vries said of dealing with the loss. "The bullpen just had a little trouble tonight. They have been pitching great throughout the season. We just weren't able to put together a complete game. It was unfortunate because I thought we were going to take one from one of the better teams in baseball."

The Twins bullpen has been the best part of the team against most opponents, but it has a 9.00 ERA against the White Sox this season.

De Vries said he began to feel a little tired in the sixth inning, and Gardenhire wanted a lefthander to face the top of the White Sox order. So Tyler Robertson started the seventh. Alejandro De Aza lined out to right -- on a nice diving catch by Darin Mastroianni -- but Robertson walked Kevin Youkilis on four pitches. The fuse was lit.

Up stepped Dunn, who hit a 2-2 pitch out to right for a two-run homer to tie the score at 4.

Gardenhire went to righthander Casey Fien -- who allowed all five batters he faced to reach base, one on an intentional walk. Dayan Viciedo's single to center during that spree drove two runs in to give Chicago a 6-4 lead.

It didn't stop there, as Chicago added five more runs in the eighth, including a two-run double by Dunn off Jeff Gray and a two-run homer by Alexi Ramirez off Anthony Swarzak. It was a complete meltdown by the bullpen.

"A really good game until the seventh inning," Gardenhire said, "then they kind of ambushed us. We didn't make any pitches. They hit some in the seats. We didn't throw it over. We get ahead in the count and couldn't put a hitter away. They absolutely killed us for two big innings with a nine-spot in a game we were handling pretty good."

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