CHICAGO – Joe Mauer had three hits, including a three-run homer, and the Minnesota Twins took a commanding eight-game lead in the AL Central with a 9-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
With 17 games left for both teams, Minnesota has basically secured the division barring an epic collapse. The Twins' magic number to win the division is 10.
Twins starter Brian Duensing (9-2) pitched six innings, allowing two runs while scattering nine hits. He struck out four and walked one. The left-hander, who was promoted to the rotation in late July, is 6-1 as a starter.
The Twins have won 10 of 11 and have baseball's best record since the All-Star break at 41-16. They improved to 6-2 in Chicago.
Mauer is 15 for 27 with four doubles and two home runs at US Cellular Field this season and is 30 for 66 overall for a .455 average against the White Sox.
Carlos Quentin hit a two-run homer in the sixth for the White Sox, who dropped to 5-12 against the Twins with one game left between the teams.
White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (10-13) was tagged for six runs and nine hits. He struck out four and walked two.
With two outs in the fifth, Denard Span singled and stole second, Orlando Hudson followed with an infield single. Then on a 1-0 pitch, Mauer broke a scoreless tie, with a three-run shot to right field. It was Mauer's ninth of the season.
Minnesota added insurance runs against Floyd in the sixth. Delmon Young had a sacrifice fly and J.J. Hardy added an RBI single to chase Floyd. Span followed with an infield roller down the third-base line to score Danny Valencia.
Former White Sox slugger Jim Thome had a two-run single against reliever Sergio Santos in the seventh and Valencia had a sacrifice fly off Tony Pena to make it 9-2.
After squandering several scoring opportunities in Tuesday's 9-3 loss, the White Sox loaded the bases with one out in the second and failed to scored. Omar Vizquel hit a grounder to Valencia at third, who forced Paul Konerko at the plate and Gordon Beckham ended the inning by flying out to right. In the third, Duensing struck out Konerko with Juan Pierre on third to end the inning and Vizquel hit into an inning-ending double play in the fourth with runners on first and third.
Alexei Ramirez tripled in the seventh off Twins reliever Matt Guerrier and scored on Alex Rios' infield single.
Manny Ramirez was 1 for 2 with two walks and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen insists he will play him daily.
"Manny will play every day because Jerry Reinsdorf is paying him a lot of money," he said before the game.
In 12 games, Ramirez is 10 for 37, all singles, and has not driven in a run.
NOTES: Guillen said RHP Freddy Garcia will likely miss his scheduled start on Saturday. Garcia missed his start on Sunday with a sore back. ... Guillen is hoping to get closer Bobby Jenks (pinched nerve) for the weekend series against Detroit. ... Twins RF Jason Kubel left the game after the fifth inning with soreness in his left wrist. ... Twins closer Matt Capps pitched a scoreless ninth.