By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- another big test for the Twins' rotation took place on Sunday afternoon, and things certainly didn't go the way the club had hoped for right-hander Nick Blackburn against the White Sox.but a ninth-nning comeback against White Sox closer Bobby Jenks turned another less-than-stellar start into a jubilant celebration, as the Twins tallied four runs in the ninth for a 7-6 come-from-behind victory in the series finale.Delmon Young blooped a single into right-center to score the tying run and a throwing error by center fielder Alex Rios on the play allowed Michael Cuddyer to score the winning run."An exciting comeback at the end," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Some great at-bats and then the big one by Delmon and then their throwaway made it a real exciting win for us. a good series against these guys, taking three out of four, and hopefully we're back on the right track."The comeback gave Minnesota a series win as well. After dropping the opener of the four-game set, the Twins won three straight against Chicago to pull within 1 1/2 games of the first-place White Sox.The Twins had opened up the second half sitting in third place in the American League Central and trailing Chicago by 3 1/2 games. having lost 7 of 10 games to finish off the first half, the Twins were looking for a jump start and this certainly seemed to give them that."Anytime you are playing guys in your division, especially guys ahead of you in the division and you take three out of four, it's a big series," said shortstop J.J. Hardy.Trailing, 6-3, at the start of the ninth, Orlando Hudson got the comeback started for the Twins when he drew a walk off Jenks in a 10-pitch at-bat. Joe Mauer followed by walking on four straight pitches. Jason Kubel added a run-scoring single to left field on an 0-2 pitch and Cuddyer singled in a run on another two-strike pitch, marking the end of Jenks' day.Sergio Santos replaced Jenks and walked Jason Repko, who had pinch-ran for Jim Thome in the eighth inning, on five pitches. Next up to the plate was Young, who lifted an 0-1 pitch between the outfielders in right-center field. a run scored, as Cuddyer stopped at third and Rios cut off the ball. but Rios threw wildy between third base and home plate, allowing Cuddyer to race home as the ball caromed off the fence in front of the Chicago dugout."Bobby has been great for us since I was managing him," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "He's our guy, he just struggled today. You cannot make mistakes with those guys. they have a good hitting ballclub, they can do a lot of things out there. The last four games were a battle. all four were back-and-forth games. unfortunately, we didn't play the way we wanted to play here."The Twins mobbed Young after Cuddyer crossed home plate. Young, who has been a key run-producer for the club this season, tried to escape the celebration smackdown from his teammates. He scampered away from the mob with the memory of what happened to Angels first baseman Kendry Morales, who suffered a broken leg during a walk-off celebration earlier this season."I've still got a sprained wrist and I didn't want to jam it any further, so I was trying to avoid all the hits," said Young, who now has 63 RBIs on the season.The Twins had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the contest thanks to a two-run homer by Young in the second inning off White Sox starter Freddy Garcia. Cuddyer added a two-out, RBI triple in the third to give the Twins a 3-1 lead.The White Sox remained in the contest by chipping away slowly at Blackburn, who managed to get through five innings relatively unscathed with a 3-2 lead. but a rough start to the sixth inning left his rotation spot once again on perilous ground.Blackburn gave up hits to the first three hitters he faced in the sixth, including a two-run double to Carlos Quentin. that marked the end of Blackburn's day, replaced by left-hander Brian Duensing. Pitching coach Rick Anderson came out to take Blackburn out of the game since Gardenhire has been dealing with a bad back recently.Chicago would tally a total of four runs in the sixth inning and Blackburn was charged with five runs on nine hits over five-plus innings. It marked the seventh time in his last nine starts that Blackburn has allowed at least five runs in an outing and only once over that stretch has he worked seven innings. Sunday's outing raised Blackburn's Major League-worst ERA from 6.40 to 6.53. "I don't know how much longer they're going to keep putting up with that stuff," said Blackburn. "It's frustrating for me. We're going to go back out there like we always have and I'm going to keep working on it and hope that everything smooths out. hopefully things start going my way. Like I said, today wasn't too bad of a day until I made two mistakes and it kind of backfired on me."The Twins have yet to make a decision about Blackburn's future in the rotation or whether any other changes are coming. The club is waiting to see how Scott Baker, who received a cortisone injection for some right elbow tendinitis before the All-Star break, fares in his second-half debut on Monday against the Indians.one thing that's clear is the Twins did stretch out one of their possible rotation candidates, left-hander Brian Duesning. After Blackburn was taken out of the game, Duensing pitched four innings in relief and threw a total of 47 pitches to match his season high."We said we were going to use him in a situation where we want to stretch him out," Gardenhire said. "Today it came when Blackie went out after five and didn't get any outs in the sixth. There you have it. we needed him to throw some pitches."But while a change to the rotation could possibly be in the works, Gardenhire didn't want to dwell on that following what the entire club felt was a big win."We're not going to deal with that right now," Gardenhire said. "We're going to enjoy this ballgame and we'll discuss those things as we go along."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. this story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.