CHICAGO (AP) - Chris Sale couldn’t find the plate and the Minnesota Twins pounced for two runs in the first inning.
Then the Chicago White Sox ace found his stride, and the last-place, injury-riddled Twins stood no chance.
Sale retired 19 of the final 20 batters he faced and struck out nine over seven innings to become the majors’ first seven-game winner. Todd Frazier homered and drove in two runs, and the White Sox beat the reeling Twins 7-2 on Saturday night.
Dioner Navarro had three hits and scored the go-ahead run in the fourth for the White Sox, who handed the frustrated Twins their eighth loss in nine games.
“Everything is going their way right now,” Twins starter Ervin Santana said of the White Sox (21-10). “For me, you just have to work hard and one day it will turn for us. Let’s see if they can handle it later.”
Santana (0-2) returned from the disabled list, but the right-hander lasted only 3 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits while coughing up Minnesota’s early lead.
Frazier’s homer came on an 0-2 pitch to lead off the third.
“It was where I wanted it, inside,” Santana said. “They’re tough right now.”
An overthrowing Sale hit Byung Ho Park in the right knee with a pitch to load the bases, then walked Oswaldo Arcia and hit Jorge Polanco to force in two runs. Sale banged the baseball on the side of his head in frustration.
“When I get bad, I feel like hurting myself,” Sale said. “I don’t get it.”
Sale (7-0) settled and finished his 120-pitch outing by allowing three hits. Polanco’s one-out double was the lone blemish after the first.
Polanco was then caught off second on a ball hit to his right amid another frustrating and painful night for the AL-worst Twins.
It began with shortstop Eduardo Escobar (strained groin) placed on the disabled list, then saw second baseman Brian Dozier (hamstring) held out for a second straight day.
Manager Paul Molitor planned to give Joe Mauer the day off, but he entered in the bottom of the first after Park’s knee swelled . Catcher Kurt Suzuki (neck tightness) was replaced by Juan Centeno in the fifth after taking a foul ball off his mask.
“We’re not going to go down the road of trying to make excuses for being (8-22), but tonight was another tough night physically for us,” Molitor said. “Park took a shot off the knee and he was clearly sore. Kurt took a direct shot. Thankfully the concussion tests were negative, but he’s very sore and lightheaded.”
Molitor said Centeno would start Sunday, but Suzuki was hopeful he would be available to back up.
“I got a little whiplash, but it’s nothing major,” Suzuki said.
Frazier had an RBI double in a three-run seventh off Ryan Pressly, who also hit Avisail Garcia with the bases loaded as the Twins fell to 2-14 on the road.
Twins: Molitor said it’s uncertain if Escobar will need more than 15 days to recover. . Dozier wanted to play, but Molitor overruled him. “I don’t want him to go out there and do something that could put him out a large chunk of time,” Molitor said.
White Sox: Alex Avila (hamstring) went 0 for 3 with two walks while catching seven innings in a rehab appearance for Triple-A Charlotte.
Molitor said Friday was “a hard day for everybody” after word leaked that relievers Casey Fien and Tommy Milone had been placed on irrevocable waivers, yet were still with the team.
“There was an awkwardness about the day that was uncomfortable for me,” Molitor said. “You have relationships, or at least you try to with your players.”
Fien was claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, while Milone cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Rochester.
While Milone was unavailable to pitch Friday, Molitor also didn’t use Fien.
“Given the circumstances, I was trying not to bring him in the game, to be honest,” Molitor said.
RHP Tyler Duffey (0-1, 1.74 ERA) makes his third start Sunday as the Twins try to avoid a three-game sweep. LHP Jose Quintana (4-1, 1.40) starts for the White Sox.
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