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Sizzling Sox nip Twins

By Jon Krawczynski, AP Baseball Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins at their own game.

Gordon Beckham had a home run and two RBIs and John Danks recovered from his worst inning of the season to help the White Sox win their ninth game in a row, 8-7 over Twins on Thursday night.

Danks (9-7) gave up six runs on six hits in the second inning, but only allowed three hits in his other five scoreless innings and the White Sox did all the little things right to push the slumping Twins 4½ games behind them in the AL Central.

Bobby Jenks picked up his 20th save in 21 chances. He struck out Orlando Hudson with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, then gave up an RBI-single to Delmon Young in the ninth before getting Jim Thome looking to end the game.

Chicago perfectly executed four hit-and-runs, bunted runners over and played superb defense for their 26th win in the last 31 games.

The Twins lost for the seventh time in nine games and suffered through another terrible outing by their starting pitcher. Kevin Slowey was tagged for five runs on nine hits in three innings and Alex Burnett (1-2) gave up three more runs in relief.

Juan Pierre had three hits and an RBI and Alex Rios added two hits and two RBIs for the White Sox.

Joe Mauer had three hits and three RBIs and J.J. Hardy chipped in two hits and an RBI for Minnesota.

These two teams were headed in opposite directions going into the break, with the White Sox going 25-5 to take a half-game lead in the division. It's been a startling turnaround for a team that was 24-33 and 9½ games down on June 8.

The way they have done it has to look awfully familiar to the Twins. Starting pitching, defense and doing all the little things have propelled Chicago from a team that was considering trading some of its biggest assets to a first-place buyer on the open market.

It was more of the same in the opener of an important four-game set to start the second half.

The White Sox scratched their way to a 4-0 lead early thanks to three sacrifice flies and Beckham's solo homer that reached the second deck in left field.

The Twins responded in the bottom of the second inning, scoring six runs on six hits, including Joe Mauer's bases loaded double down the third baseline that gave them a 6-4 lead.

But Danks settled down after that facing just one more batter than the minimum while the White Sox climbed back into the game. Beckham had an RBI-single in the fourth and A.J. Pierzynski's two-run double highlighted Chicago's three-run fifth inning to put them back in the lead.

In a role reversal, it was the Twins this time who committed the blunders to let the game slip away to the smarter, sharper White Sox.

Denard Span popped up a bunt attempt to Danks in the fourth and Burnett balked home the tying run in the fifth when he never let his pitch to Mark Kotsay go.

The Twins have just six wins in their last 20 games and will play this entire series without All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau, who missed his fourth straight game on Thursday with a concussion. Manager Ron Gardenhire said his slugger could go on the disabled list on Friday.

NOTES: Twins LHP Brian Duensing, one of their most valued relievers, was not available because of illness. ... Rios's single in the sixth inning was career hit No. 1,000. ... Twins RF Jason Kubel went 1 for 5 with four strikeouts.