CHICAGO (AP) — Brian Dozier was struggling to keep his average above .200 for the first two months of the season.
Then June arrived and Dozier turned into one of the hottest hitters in the majors.
Dozier homered twice and drove in four runs, Kyle Gibson pitched seven innings of five-hit ball for his first victory of the season, and the Minnesota Twins blanked the Chicago White Sox 4-0 on Tuesday night.
Dozier homered in his third straight game and extended his hitting streak to 10 games as the last-place Twins beat the White Sox for first time in seven tries.
“It’s contagious. I know that’s a boring answer, but it really is,” Dozier said. “Guys heat up around you and you kind of feed off one another. I got a couple good pitches to hit.”
Gibson (1-5) struck out seven and walked one in his best performance since coming off the disabled list this month.
Ryan Pressly and Brandon Kintzler each got three outs to finish the six-hitter for Minnesota’s first shutout of the season.
“Thankfully, I was able to put up some zeros and keep some of the pressure off the offense,” Gibson said.
Dozier pulled both homers off Jose Quintana (5-8), a solo shot off a fastball in the second and a three-run drive off a curveball in the sixth for his third career multihomer game. Dozier’s 12th homer of the season drove in Eduardo Nunez, who had singled, and Joe Mauer, who walked.
Dozier has gone from .202 on June 1 to .259. In his 10-game hitting streak, he is hitting .439 (18 for 41) with five homers, three doubles and two triples.
“I think he’s just slowing himself down and getting a better look at the baseball,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I think he’s executing plans a little bit better and when he gets mistakes, he’s taking advantage.”
It was the ninth straight game with an extra-base hit for Dozier, the longest streak for the franchise since it moved to Minnesota in 1961. Dozier added an infield single off Chris Beck in the eighth.
“It’s all about driving the ball and staying behind the ball,” Dozier said.
The Twins won for the fifth time in eight games and slowed a White Sox team that thought it was on the upswing.
Chicago had won two straight series after a 10-26 stretch, but it was shut down by Gibson in the right-hander’s best start since he threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the White Sox on Sept. 13.
Todd Frazier went 0 for 4 and struck out twice, lowering his average to .198, and Melky Cabrera was 0 for 3 before leaving with a sore left wrist after six innings.
Rookie Tim Anderson had two hits for the White Sox, who again provided little support for Quintana. The lefty allowed six hits and struck out eight in seven innings.
After a 5-1 start, Quintana is 0-7 in his last nine outings despite a 3.18 season ERA.
“It’s been going on for two or three years,” Frazier said of Quintana’s lack of support. “Maybe we try a little harder. I’m not saying pressing like ‘We got to, we got to.‘ But maybe we go after it more rather than just see pitches.”
Twins: RHP Phil Hughes will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. He was already out with a broken bone above his left knee. ... 3B Miguel Sano (strained left hamstring) homered Monday for Triple-A Rochester, but Molitor said he still has “a ways to go” before he’ll be ready to end his rehab assignment.
White Sox: Manager Robin Ventura said Cabrera has been sore since diving for a fly ball on June 18. “When he swings and misses there seems to be some irritation,” Ventura said.
Recent White Sox signing Justin Morneau (elbow surgery) said he feels “more like a baseball player” as he takes daily batting practice. The former AL MVP with the Twins could start a minor league rehab stint next week — he said he’ll need at least 30 at-bats — before a possible Chicago debut after the All-Star break.
That would put Morneau in line to play at Minnesota as an opponent for the first time July 29-31.
“It’ll be weird,” he said.
RHP James Shields (2-9, 6.22 ERA) makes his fifth start for Chicago and faces Minnesota RHP Ricky Nolasco (3-5, 4.95 ERA) on Wednesday night.