Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura was asked if there's such a thing as a defensive drought. The former Gold Glove-winning third baseman paused and acknowledged that it's possible before quickly making a point.
"But you've got to stop it," Ventura said. "We've got to work at it and make sure we get better at it."
The White Sox got off to a fast start offensively Monday night at Minnesota, but the defense faltered as the game went along in a 7-6 loss to the Twins. The White Sox committed three errors that led to three unearned runs.
None were as costly as the final run of the game.
With the game tied 6-6, Minnesota's Danny Valencia led off of the ninth with a single off reliever Brett Myers (0-1). Brian Dozier bunted in an attempt to move Valencia into scoring position but A.J. Pierzynski's throw to first sailed into right field, giving the Twins runners on second and third.
Minnesota's Jamey Carroll followed with a fly ball to right, allowing pinch runner Alexi Casilla to slide in with the winning run ahead of Alex Rios' throw. The loss was Chicago's second in a row, but a Detroit loss allowed the White Sox to remain 1 1/2 games ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central.
"The play in the ninth inning, the guy made a good bunt, I picked it up and just made a bad throw," Pierzyznski said. "It happens. It's one of those things that will eat at you, but you have to forget about it and get ready for tomorrow."
While Chicago ranks second in the American League in fielding percentage, this was the second consecutive game in which the White Sox have been hurt by their defense. On Sunday, Texas' first of two runs was unearned and Chicago was never able to tie the game.
"We've got to clean it up and focus on it and make sure we're getting better at it," Ventura said of his team's defense. "We're giving away a lot of runs. The big ones are the unearned ones, you just give them something they really shouldn't have. We've got to get better at that."
The White Sox jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning, highlighted by a three-run homer from Pierzynski. That lead didn't last as Minnesota quickly scored four runs of its own in the bottom half off Chicago starter Jose Quintana, one of which was unearned.
Quintana didn't keep his pitches down in the first inning, but the rookie settled after that. Quintana didn't allow a runner past first in any of his final four innings of work and gave up six runs — four earned — on 10 hits over seven innings.
"He settled down and still gave us seven solid innings," Pierzynski said. "That was basically it, he was up early and they hit them."
Trailing 6-5, Chicago tied the game in the top of the eighth. Alejandro De Aza, who had four hits, singled off Minnesota reliever Jared Burton to tie it 6-all — the first run scored on Burton since June 12.
Denard Span had two hits and two spectacular catches in center field for the Twins, and Valencia added three hits and two RBIs.
The Twins, who snapped a five-game skid against Chicago, lead the AL in scoring for July and have put up 96 runs in their last 14 home games.
Glen Perkins (2-1) pitched the ninth, striking out Pierzynski with Rios on first to end the inning. Pierzynski barked at home plate umpire Adrian Johnson on his way back to the dugout.
NOTES: Francisco Liriano debuts for the White Sox on Tuesday night after the Twins traded him to Chicago late Saturday. ... To make room for Liriano, the White Sox optioned Hector Santiago to Triple-A Charlotte. Santiago was 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 32 relief appearances, but manager Robin Ventura said he'll get a chance to start at Charlotte. ... Liriano (3-10, 5.31 ERA) said before Monday's game that he had no hard feelings toward the Twins after the trade and that he's ready to face his former team. "It just feels weird right now," he said. "I'm just trying to fit in, do my part." ... The Twins will counter with Nick Blackburn (4-6, 7.99). The right-hander has allowed four runs or more in six of his last seven starts. ... Injured Twins starter Carl Pavano (rotator cuff) will make his first rehab start on Thursday in the Gulf Coast League.