CHICAGO (AP) — James Shields insisted career win No. 130 was just like every other one. He offered no sign of relief or satisfaction. There was just praise for his defense and a big smile.
It was simply time to move on.
Shields broke out of a slump with 6 2/3 innings against one of baseball’s worst lineups, helping the Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 9-6 on Wednesday night.
“It was coming out of his hand better and he was finishing,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Locating better as well. Just the way it was out of his hand, it was getting better and better.”
Shields (3-9) allowed one run and eight hits in his first win since he tossed seven scoreless innings for San Diego at Milwaukee on May 12. The right-hander got hit hard after he was acquired by Chicago in a trade June 4, going 0-2 with a 15.80 ERA in his first four starts.
“It was a tough stretch,” he said. “It’s nice to get off the schneid there and get a win, but I don’t really focus on that kind of stuff. I’ve been around this game for a long time, but my main focus is to win games for this team right now.”
Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie and Tyler Saladino homered for the White Sox, who improved to 7-1 against the Twins after losing 4-0 in the series opener on Tuesday. Saladino and Tim Anderson each had two hits and two RBIs.
Chicago carried a 9-1 lead into the ninth, but Max Kepler’s two-run double got Minnesota within three with two out. Nate Jones then came in with runners on second and third and retired Eduardo Escobar on a fly ball to left for his second save.
“Somehow we got the tying run to the plate there in the ninth inning,” manager Paul Molitor. “But it was too big of a deficit.”
Eduardo Nunez homered on Shields’ second pitch of the game, but it was a mostly frustrating night for Minnesota at the plate. The Twins, who rank near the bottom of the majors in several offensive categories, went 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
Nunez finished with three hits and Brian Dozier extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a double in the sixth. Dozier also has at least one extra-base hit in a franchise-record 10 straight games.
Minnesota had a chance to tie it at 2 in the fifth, but Kurt Suzuki was cut down by Adam Eaton’s major league-best 11th assist when he tried to score on Nunez’s double to the wall in right. Suzuki was basically forced to head home when Nunez nearly ran him over near third.
“Kurt has to be somewhat protective of the catch,” Molitor said. “Nunie’s focus was more on where the ball was rolling than the runner in front of him and we got into a tough spot there. We ended up losing an opportunity.”
Saladino belted a solo shot against Ricky Nolasco in the bottom half, and the White Sox broke it open with five runs in the sixth. Frazier led off with his 22nd homer and Anderson contributed a two-run single.
Nolasco (3-6) was charged with seven runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings in his second straight loss.
“I felt fine, a lot better than the last start,” Nolasco said. “Good enough that I thought we could salvage the game there for the last few innings, but it just didn’t work out.”
White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera had an MRI on his ailing right wrist and will miss a couple of days with a mild sprain.
“It’s difficult because I want to play, but the doctors said the best for me right now is just to take a rest for a couple of days because I have inflammation there,” Cabrera said through a translator.
The White Sox optioned left-hander Matt Purke to Triple-A Charlotte after the win. They said they will make a corresponding move before the series finale.
Twins: Molitor said RHP Phil Hughes has “peace of mind” after learning he needs season-ending shoulder surgery, explaining his fatigue and loss of velocity. “It spoke to the fact that he had trouble sustaining himself and stiffening,” Molitor said. Hughes, already sidelined with a knee injury, is scheduled for surgery next Wednesday.
White Sox: RHP Zach Putnam is working out while he rests his ailing right elbow. Season-ending surgery is a possibility. “Obviously the goal is to avoid that if possible,” he said. “I think we are going to give it the old college try and try to see if we can get through the rest of the season without having to do a procedure.”
Left-handers Tommy Milone of the Twins and Carlos Rodon of the White Sox face off in the series finale on Thursday. Milone (0-2, 5.33 ERA) is 4-1 with a 2.02 ERA in his career against the White Sox. Rodon (2-6, 4.09 ERA) is winless in his last five starts despite a 3.41 ERA for that stretch.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap