CHICAGO (AP) — This time, the Minnesota Twins bashed their way to a runaway win.
The slumping Chicago White Sox were no match for Nelson Cruz and company.
Cruz hit three of Minnesota’s five homers and finished with five RBIs, helping the AL Central leaders beat the White Sox 10-3 on Thursday night.
Max Kepler and Miguel Sanó also connected as Minnesota (62-40) totaled at least five homers for a major league-record ninth time this season, according to STATS. José Berríos (9-5) pitched seven effective innings for his first win since June 6.
“It’s not easy,” Cruz said. “To be able to hit three is a blessing.
“The most important thing is we won and the way Berríos pitched. At the end of the day, it’s pitching.”
Even more impressive, Cruz went deep against All-Star Lucas Giolito on different pitches — fastball, curveball and changeup.
“It was some kind of night,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, whose team was coming off a pair of high-scoring losses to the New York Yankees at home.
Cruz hit a solo drive in the first, a two-run shot in the third and another two-run homer in the fifth. The designated hitter struck out swinging for the final out of the sixth then flied out to right leading off the ninth.
“Just to get a hit, put good wood on it,” Cruz said of his thought process in the final two at-bats. “I was myself, I guess.”
It was the first three-homer game for the six-time All-Star, who has 385 home runs in his career. He became the 10th player in big league history with a three-homer game after turning 39, according to Baseball Prospectus, joining a list that includes Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Frank Thomas and Álex Rodríguez.
“You just assume he’s done things like that,” Baldelli said. “Those kind of nights are pretty unique and special, and when you get a chance to see them live, we all kind of enjoy them and appreciate them.”
The White Sox (45-55) lost for the 11th time in 14 games since the All-Star break and dropped 10 games below .500 for the first time this season. Yoán Moncada hit his 19th homer, but Giolito (11-5) was hit hard by Cruz.
“He’s a good hitter,” Giolito said. “He was seeing me well.”
Cruz, who signed a $14.3 million, one-year contract with Minnesota in January, has six homers in his last four games and 25 overall this season. According to STATS, he is the oldest player in major league history to hit six-plus homers in a four-game span, surpassing Barry Bonds, who hit seven in four games at age 36 in 2001.
Giolito (11-5) allowed seven runs and seven hits in five innings, dropping to 0-3 in four July starts.
“Got to turn the page and move on,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Lucas will be fine.”
After Giolito departed, Sanó hit a two-run shot off Jimmy Cordero in the sixth, and Jorge Polanco added an RBI single.
MORE OF THE SAME
Cruz’s outburst followed three-homer games by New York Mets second baseman Robinson Canó on Tuesday night and St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong on Wednesday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time in major league history there’s been a three-homer game on three consecutive days.
Twins: OF Byron Buxton (concussion symptoms) doubled twice in four at-bats in his return from an 11-day absence, the result of a collision with a wall at Cleveland on July 13. He also had three wisdom teeth extracted. “It’s one of those plays, where if it comes down to it and I had to do it again, I’d do it again,” said Buxton, who started in center field and batted ninth. “I’m going to be me.” OF Jake Cave was sent to Triple-A Rochester.
White Sox: SS Tim Anderson (sprained right ankle) singled and doubled in four at-bats with Triple-A Charlotte. He could return to the White Sox early next week. … OF Eloy Jiménez (bruised right elbow) accelerated his physical activity and might not require a minor league rehab stint, Renteria said.
Twins: RHP Michael Piñeda (6-5, 4.41 ERA) will take the ball in the second of the four-game set on Friday night.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Cease (1-2, 6.19 ERA) is set for his fourth career start.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports