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Liriano pitches Sox to 4-2 win over former team Twins

By Joe Christensen, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) –

MINNEAPOLIS—Francisco Liriano made it through six innings Tuesday night without the usual parade of mound visits Twins fans are used to seeing from his catchers.

White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski has a different philosophy.

(PHOTO: Chicago White Sox pitcher Francisco Liriano throws in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.)

“He told me (Monday), ‘If you want me to come out to talk to you every inning I’ll do that,’ ” Liriano said. “But he doesn’t like talking to the pitcher a lot. So that’s fine with me.”

Liriano let his pitching do the talking in his White Sox debut, and in the ninth inning, Pierzynski settled the score with his bat, hitting a two-run homer off Jeff Gray to defeat the Twins 4-2 before a crowd of 36,424 at Target Field.

Nick Blackburn turned in his best performance of the season, giving up two runs over eight innings, but the first-place White Sox ended the Twins’ four-game winning streak.

Three days after getting traded from the Twins for infielder Eduardo Escobar and lefthander Pedro Hernandez, Liriano found himself paired in an unusual battery. Pierzynski is the same player the Twins traded to the Giants in 2003 to get Liriano, Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser.

“It’s something I never thought I’d do when we were traded for each other way back in the day,” Pierzynski said. “It’s cool.”

Wearing their gray uniforms with black trim, Liriano (No. 58) and Pierzynski (No. 12) walked together from the bullpen to the dugout before the game, as the starting lineups were announced over the public address system.

For some reason, Twins fans still boo Pierzynski’s name, but they gave Liriano a warm round of applause. Liriano escaped some early trouble and wound up taking a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning.

The Twins capitalized on two walks to take a 2-1 lead that inning — without getting a hit out of the infield. The go-ahead run scored on Danny Valencia’s two-out infield single.

That was it for Liriano, who held the Twins to two runs on four hits in six innings, with four walks and eight strikeouts.

“Frankie did his thing,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He got in the same situations he got in with us. He just worked his way out of them. That’s exactly what you’re going to get out of him. You’re going to get battles.”

After falling behind in the sixth, Chicago came back to tie it in the seventh on a two-out RBI single by Alexei Ramirez. But Gardenhire was thrilled Black­burn turned in eight innings on a night the Twins wanted to rest several members of the bullpen.

“(Jared) Burton was not pitching, (Alex) Burnett was not pitching, (Glen) Perkins was save (situation) only,” Gardenhire said, explaining that if he had used Perkins and Burton, they wouldn’t have been available Wednesday.

“Some other people have to get some outs,” Gardenhire added. “Gray’s got good stuff. He’s been throwing the ball well. He just didn’t tonight.”

Alex Rios led off the ninth inning with a single, hitting an 0-2 pitch off Gray (5-1), and Pierzynski also drilled an 0-2 pitch on his home run, a ball crushed down the right-field line. It was Pierzynski’s 18th homer of the season, matching a career-high set in 2005, his first year with Chicago.

“After the game (Liriano) was great,” Pierzynski said. “He apologized to me for being wild. I was like, ‘Dude you’re fine. You’re great. Don’t apologize to me.’ I thought he threw the ball great and hope he can continue to grow after this one.”

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