CHICAGO (AP) — At the end of a miserable season for the Chicago White Sox, Gavin Sheets just wants to see the team finish on a high note.
With one big swing Saturday night, Sheets did his part to help with that goal.
Sheets and Eloy Jiménez homered during Chicago's five-run first inning, leading the White Sox to a 7-6 victory over Pablo López and the Minnesota Twins.
“It's still nice to have games like that, even at this point in the season,” Sheets said. “String (together) a couple like that and hopefully get something going and, as I said the other day, just finish strong.”
Touki Toussaint struck out eight in five effective innings as lowly Chicago stopped a four-game slide. Tim Anderson had three hits and started a key double play in the seventh.
Minnesota had won three of four. With the loss and Cleveland's 2-1 victory over Texas, the Twins' magic number for clinching the AL Central title remained at seven.
“We were able to get something going off of their bullpen, but we had a tough inning to start the game,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We kind of left ourselves too much room to make up.”
López (10-8) allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings, falling to 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA in his last 10 starts. The right-hander was coming off a dominant performance against the New York Mets, striking out a career-high 14 in eight scoreless innings in Minnesota's 2-0 loss last weekend.
The Twins pulled within one on Kyle Farmer's bases-loaded walk with two out in the ninth. But Tanner Banks earned his first career save when Willi Castro fouled out to first baseman Andrew Vaughn.
“I really tried to bear down and focus and not let the situation get too big,” Banks said. “Trusting my stuff and my strengths.”
López had a rough stretch in the first, and Chicago capitalized. With two outs and Anderson on second, Jiménez hit a drive to left-center for his 17th homer. Following singles by Yoán Moncada and Vaughn, Sheets got a hanging curveball on an 0-2 pitch and drove it over the wall in right for his 10th homer and a 5-1 lead.
“I had many opportunities to get out of the inning,” Lopez said. “I had more opportunities to control damage, and I didn't.”
Toussaint (4-7) allowed three hits and walked one, bouncing back nicely after a shaky performance against Kansas City. He was tagged for eight runs in one inning in Chicago's 11-10 loss to the Royals on Tuesday.
"I was just throwing strikes, getting ahead of guys and putting guys away when I needed to,” he said.
Minnesota wasted scoring opportunities in the sixth and seventh before rallying with four runs in the eighth against Gregory Santos. Carlos Correa hit an RBI single and scored on a two-out error on Vaughn.
White Sox prospect Jacob Gonzalez visited with manager Pedro Grifol before the game. Gonzalez was the No. 15 pick in this year's amateur draft out of Ole Miss. The 21-year-old shortstop hit .211 with a homer and 17 RBIs in 34 games in his first stint in the minors.
“Coming from college to the minors, it’s nice to be done with school and focus on baseball every day," Gonzalez said. “I like playing every day.”
Right-handers Sonny Gray (7-7, 2.96 ERA) and Dylan Cease (7-7, 4.87) are set for the series finale Sunday. Gray is 0-1 with a 2.12 ERA in his last three starts for Minnesota. Cease pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball in Chicago's 6-2 victory over Kansas City on Tuesday.
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