It was a verbal banquet on the field in the first inning Friday. Drew Butera and Nick Blackburn talked. Blackburn and pitching coach Rick Anderson talked. And Twins manager Ron Gardenhire talked to plate umpire Mike Eastbrook.
Blackburn wasn't throwing strikes. And pitches the Twins thought were strikes weren't been called that way. Ultimately, it was the damage Chicago's Carlos Quentin did to Blackburn that turned the tables in the Twins' 5-3 loss to the White Sox at Target Field.
Quentin clubbed two home runs -- including a two-run shot in the fifth that changed the lead for good -- as Chicago ended a six-game losing streak while the Twins dropped to nine games back of first-place Detroit in the AL Central.
Blackburn made it into the sixth inning, but there were more talks about walks along the way. In 5 1/3 innings, Blackburn gave up four runs on seven hits and a career-high six walks. He's walked 11 batters over his past two starts. Blackburn's 46 walks this season already are a career high.
"With the way things have been going, I haven't been trusting my pitches lately,'' said Blackburn, whose record fell to 7-9. "Tonight everything was down in the strike zone. I had good movement. I just wasn't relaxing enough. I was trying to make sure everything was on the corner instead of just going out there and getting ground balls.''
Blackburn walked two batters in the first inning, and Juan Pierre moved to third and scored on a fielder's choice as Twins shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka flipped the ball wildly to second while attempting a force play.
The Twins stormed back with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Ben Revere scored on Joe Mauer's bloop single to left and Jason Kubel clubbed his eighth homer, a two-run blast to right. The Twins led 3-1.
But Quentin drilled a 1-0 fastball into the bullpen area in left-center in the third. In the fifth, Blackburn walked .165 hitter Adam Dunn, then Quentin blasted the first pitch he saw into the seats in left as the White Sox took a 4-3 lead.
It was Quentin's 14th multihomer game of his career. Chicago added a run on a bases-loaded wild pitch by Glen Perkins in the eighth.
"[Poor] defense and walks always adds up to runs,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
White Sox lefthander Mark Buehrle improved to 9-5 overall and 26-19 against the Twins, the most wins against any opponent. He hasn't given up more than three runs in 17 straight starts, an impressive run.
Blackburn came at the right time for the slumping White Sox. They didn't draw a single walk in four games against the Yankees earlier in the week -- their longest stretch without a walk since 1968. They went from going 133 plate appearances between walks to drawing a season-high seven walks Friday against Twins pitchers.
"Six walks is way too many,'' Blackburn said, "and that's what lost us the game.''