Mike Sirotka is what passes for an ace these days on the worst pitching staff in the majors. On Saturday night, he would have been the gem of anybody's rotation.
Sirotka held the Minnesota Twins to three hits through 8 1-3 innings to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 3-2 victory. Frank Thomas hit his first homer in two weeks and Charlie O'Brien added a key broken-bat RBI single in the seventh as Sirotka outdueled Bob Tewksbury.
"We knew we had a tough pitcher going against us, so a starter should give his team a chance to win," Sirotka said. "It was a tight game, and I just tried to keep us in there."
The victory was just the second in seven starts for Sirotka (7-6), who was coming off his worst outing in last Sunday's 13-7 loss to the crosstown rival Cubs. He lasted just 2 2-3 innings at Wrigley Field, giving up eight runs on nine hits.
This time, he allowed only Alex Ochoa's infield hit in the second inning and Ron Coomer's solo homer in the fifth before leaving after Pat Meares' one-out triple in the ninth. Mike Karchner got the final two outs, including Paul Molitor's sacrifice fly, for his seventh save.
But even though the results were far different, Sirotka said he didn't feel he pitched that much better than he did against the Cubs as he lowered his ERA to 4.62, the only one of Chicago's starters under 5.23.
"To me, the quality of pitches was fairly similar," Sirotka said. "In the Chicago game I gave up three broken-bat hits, an infield hit, a little flair. Tonight, all the balls went right at players. You've got to get a little luck."
Tewksbury (3-8) could use a little of that these days.
Although he is winless since April 29, the Twins have scored just 16 runs in his eight losses. He allowed three runs on nine hits through six-plus innings in his second start since a stint on the 15-day DL with a strained right shoulder.
But that wasn't enough to keep the Twins from their 12th one-run loss of the season.
"I felt strong tonight," Tewksbury said. "I had an opportunity and I didn't get the right guys out. I still have a little ways to go (to get back to full strength)."
The White Sox took a 1-0 lead in the second. Wil Cordero hit a one-out double, moved to third on Magglio Ordonez's single and scored on Mike Cameron's groundout.
Thomas' two-out solo homer, his 10th of the season and his first since May 31, made it 2-0 in the third. Thomas has three homers in 12 career at-bats against Tewksbury.
Coomer got the Twins back within a run in the fifth when he homered off the left-field foul pole to make it 2-1. It was Coomer's team-leading 10th homer, but also his first since May 31.
Chicago chased Tewksbury in the seventh when Robin Ventura and Cordero started the inninwith singles to put runners at the corners.
Mike Trombley came in and got Ordonez to hit a chopper to Gates, who threw out Ventura at the plate. Trombley struck out Cameron, but O'Brien lofted a broken-bat single to left to score Cordero for a 3-1 lead.
O'Brien said the White Sox needed Sirotka's effort after losing 8-7 to the Twins on Friday night, a game in which Chicago rallied to tie with five runs in the eighth.
"It's very important," O'Brien said. "We played a real lousy game (Friday) in all aspects. (Sirotka) came back and gave us a real well-pitched game."
Notes: Ray Durham was back at second base and hitting leadoff for the White Sox after missing Friday night's game to be with his wife, Crystal, for the birth of their second child, a son. Durham went 0-for-4, striking out twice and hitting into a double play. ... Chicago catcher Chad Kreuter was a late scratch because of a stiff neck. He was replaced by O'Brien, who had two hits. ... Caruso singled on the first pitch he saw to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, the longest of the season for the White Sox. ... The Twins are 3-22 when the opponent scores first.
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