MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins broke through for a victory for the second time in 10 games against the Chicago White Sox in one of the weirdest ways possible Friday night: A pinch-hit, walk-off walk by Joe Mauer.
Despite an illustrious career filled with batting titles, All-Star games and an MVP award, it was only the second career walk-off plate appearance for Mauer, whose walk gave the Twins to a 2-1 victory.
An on-base machine over his career, White Sox pitcher Tommy Kahnle got strike one before missing on four straight balls to walk in the winning run.
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"That might be my first (walk-off walk)," Mauer said. "I was happy for the opportunity. I haven't (had that chance) a whole lot over my career but those are fun situations to be in and when you come through like tonight, it's even better."
It was a tough way for Chicago to lose as it's dropped three straight contests. The White Sox trail the Central Division-leading Cleveland Indians by 9 1/2 games and the Boston Red Sox, the second wildcard, by seven.
"You feel like you gave it to them if you're not going to throw strikes," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "That's what makes it tougher."
Chicago tries to get back on track with Miguel Gonzalez on the mound Saturday. Gonzalez boasts a 2-5 record and a pedestrian 4.28 ERA but has been solid in five July starts, lasting at least six innings in each turn and posting a 2.76 ERA in that span. He has won just one of those outings however and the White Sox are 2-3 in games he has started since July 1.
Gonzalez has struggled in three career games against the Twins, posting a 1-2 record with a 5.94 ERA.
Minnesota goes with Tommy Milone (3-3, 4.97 ERA), who is looking to rebound off one of his worst starts of the season last time out against the Red Sox on Sunday when he allowed eight runs (four earned) on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings.
A solid outing by Milone could help boost his trade value for a contender looking for a long reliever or bottom of the rotation arm heading into Monday's trade deadline. Minnesota traded infielder Eduardo Nunez on Thursday in the first of what is expected to be a busy weekend for the team with the American League's worst record. Rumors have been swirling about the future of a number of the Twins' veterans.
Milone gave up five runs on nine hits and a walk in 3 1/3 innings against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on June 30, but has generally fared well against them in his career. The left-hander is 4-1 with a 2.75 ERA in nine starts.