Diamond heads to the hill for Twins in finale against ChiSox

Young lefty Scott Diamond can reach double-digit wins for the first time in a brief big-league career today when the Minnesota Twins host the Chicago White Sox in the finale of a three-game series at Target Field.

Diamond, who turned 26 on Monday, won just once in six decisions while making seven starts for the Twins in his initial taste of the majors last season - posting a 5.08 earned run average across 39 innings.

He's been ready for the task since day one of the 2012 season, however, winning five of his initial six decisions through June 9 and subsequently winning four of five after a two-start skid in mid-June.

The Canadian went the nine-inning distance for the first time in his most recent outing, allowing just three hits and walking none while defeating Cleveland, 11-0, on July 27.

The win lowered his 2012 ERA to 2.88 through exactly 100 innings of work.

Diamond last faced the White Sox on May 23 and allowed two earned runs in six innings of a 6-0 loss.

Chicago evened the series at a game apiece on Tuesday when A.J. Pierzynski's two-run home run in the ninth inning snapped a tie and secured a 4-3 win.

Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo drove in a run each for the White Sox, who won for the sixth time in their last eight.

It helped them stretch their lead in the American League's Central Division to 2 1/2 games over Detroit, which lost, 4-1, at Boston.

Matt Thornton (3-6) pitched a scoreless eighth to earn the win for the White Sox.

Making his first start against his old club since being dealt to Chicago on Saturday, Francisco Liriano allowed four hits and two runs, fanning eight with four walks, over six innings.

"He pitched great," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He's doing what we got him to do. He came out and pitched well even though the circumstances were probably a little bit odd for him to go out in our uniform and pitch here."

Denard Span finished with four hits and knocked in a run for the Twins, whose four-game win streak came to a halt.

"His slider is real good. The slider coming out of his hands looks like a fastball. It's hard to lay off," Span said. "I got lucky twice and found two hits. It definitely looks different in the box."

Jeff Gray (5-1) served up the deciding blast, wasting a strong effort by starter Nick Blackburn.

Blackburn exited in a 2-2 tie after eight, having surrendered five hits. Gray immediately allowed a leadoff hit to Alex Rios and the go-ahead homer to Chicago's veteran backstop.

Addison Reed had trouble of his own in the ninth, giving up an RBI hit to Span with one out. He recovered to earn his 17th save by fanning Darin Mastroianni and inducing a game-ending groundout from Joe Mauer.

The White Sox counter Diamond with veteran Jake Peavy, who picked up just his second win over his last 10 starts on July 25 against the Twins. In that game, Peavy allowed an earned run on six hits in six innings to run his record to 8-7.

He's 3-3 lifetime against Minnesota in eight starts, allowing a .278 batting average while posting a 3.54 earned run average in 48 1/3 innings.

In 10 road starts this season, Peavy is 3-5 with a 3.17 ERA.

The White Sox won seven of the first nine games between the teams in 2012, including the last five in a row. They swept a three-game series in Chicago from July 23-25.

Minnesota last won the season series in 2010.