MINNEAPOLIS — Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson got back on track Thursday, making his best start since the All-Star break in Minnesota’s loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Gibson, who is 9-9 this season, allowed three runs off five hits in six innings of work to earn a no decision. However, the Greenfield native struck out four and did not a record a walk in the 6-4 loss.
Minus closer Glen Perkins and set to start a nine-game road trip, the Minnesota Twins can’t afford any mistakes if they want to remain in the AL wild-card race.
A steady bullpen that’s helped Minnesota stay close slipped up Thursday.
J.B. Shuck’s two-run, pinch-hit triple in the seventh inning sent the White Sox home with a win.
Shuck’s single came off reliever Casey Fien (4-6), who allowed three runs while getting just one out. He replaced Gibson in the seventh frame.
“I wouldn’t say so much pressure, but definitely we need to get outs in big situations,” Fien said. “There are moments in games when it comes down to winning or losing on one pitch, and we need to make that pitch.”
Eddie Rosario hit a grand slam for the Twins, who fell 1½ games behind idle Texas for the second AL wild-card spot.
“We’ve got enough people out there,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s that time of the year where you hope guys can get out there and find a way to contribute as many times as possible. At the same time, you don’t want to kill anybody, so we’re going to try to be smart about it.”
Minnesota’s bullpen had allowed 11 earned runs over its past 45 2-3 innings for a 2.17 ERA entering the game, but Fien has now allowed runs in back-to-back outings after going 12 straight appearances without giving up a run.
The White Sox trailed 4-3 when Alexei Ramirez led off the seventh with an infield single that Fien kicked with his leg when it looked as if shortstop Eduardo Escobar already had a play on the ball.
“I was trying to do a goalie save right there, but it didn’t actually work out the way I wanted it to,” Fien said. “I saw the ball, and I went for it. The last time I did it, I had better luck. This time, not so much.”
Geovany Soto then walked, Carlos Sanchez sacrificed and Shuck delivered.
Shuck hasn’t started a game since Aug. 19 and had just five plate appearances in that stretch. He had been 6 for 26 with three RBIs as a pinch-hitter this season.
“Seemed like the right time to do it with him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You know there’s guys in scoring position when he’s going up there. If I’m going to use him, I want to use him when there’s some guys on base.”
Jose Abreu had three hits for Chicago to back Jeff Samardzija (9-11). The White Sox starter ended his six-game losing streak and David Robertson got his 28th save in 34 chances.
Samardzija managed to earn his first win since July 28. He has an 8.33 ERA in his last seven starts and has allowed nine home runs during that span.
Minnesota Twins’ Kyle Gibson recorded a no decision against the Chicago White Sox, surrendering three runs in 6 innings Thursday night. The Greenfield-Central graduate’s pitching line against the White Sox as well as for the season: