MINNEAPOLIS - Brian Dozier has been everywhere for the Minnesota Twins during a breakout season for the sweet-swinging, slick-fielding second baseman.
So it was no surprise that he had his fingerprints all over an eventful ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox.
Dozier started a superb double play in the top of the inning that snuffed out Chicago's chances of taking the lead and then delivered the game-winning single in the bottom of the frame to lift the Twins to a 5-4 victory Friday night.
"The walk-off hit, it is what it is, but that's probably one of the best feelings I've had in a while, to be honest with you," Dozier said of his defensive gem.
The White Sox had already scored twice off closer Glen Perkins (3-0) to tie the game, and manager Ron Gardenhire decided to walk Gordon Beckham to load the bases with one out. Conor Gillaspie sent a high chopper in Dozier's direction, and he had to make a split-second decision whether to come home with the throw or try to start the double play. He zipped a throw to shortstop Danny Santana, who fired a laser to Joe Mauer at first base that ended the inning.
"Hats off to Danny," Dozier said. "If he doesn't have an AK-47 attached to his body, we probably don't turn the double play."
Kurt Suzuki had three hits and an RBI and the Twins picked up Perkins, who blew his third save in 21 chances.
In the bottom of the ninth, Daniel Webb (4-1) walked Eduardo Escobar and Sam Fuld with one out and Escobar beat the throw home with a beautiful slide to win it. The play was confirmed upon review.
"I thought there was no way he made the plate, because I felt his hand on my cleat," White Sox catcher Adrian Nieto. "The replay showed he reached back with his right hand. So, he did a great job."
Dozier, who is in consideration for the All-Star game thanks to his 15 home runs and stellar defence, was mobbed by his teammates after the big hit and cheered loudly as he exited the field.
"He's into the game pretty good," Gardenhire said. "He's a fun player to watch play baseball."
Beckham and Jose Abreu homered for the White Sox.
Escobar drove in two runs and Ricky Nolasco gave up two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings to help the Twins to their second straight win after a five-game losing streak.
Hector Noesi gave up four runs, six hits and struck out four in seven innings for the White Sox, who lost for the sixth time in the last eight games.
Nolasco got off to an inauspicious start when Beckham and Abreu hit 825 feet worth of home runs off him in the first inning for a 2-0 lead. Beckham's was a screamer into the second deck in left field while Abreu's landed in the bullpen in left-centre for his 21st of the season, drawing boos from an impatient home crowd.
But the offence picked him up. Escobar's 22nd double of the season scored two in the three-run second inning and Suzuki drove in another to make it 4-2 in the third.
Nolasco settled down after that, not allowing a runner past first base over the next four innings. But the right-hander who was brought in to stabilize the top of a lacklustre rotation has often run into problems with a big inning later in his starts and Gardenhire didn't take any chances when two hitters reached base with one out in the sixth.
"I was lucky to give up just two runs to that lineup with the stuff I had," Nolasco said.
NOTES: The White Sox had their 23rd multi-homer game of the season. They are 18-5 in those games. ... Twins RF Oswaldo Arcia returned to the lineup after getting two days off to try and clear his head during a 2-for-32 slump. He went 0 for 3 and was hit by a pitch. ... RHP Kevin Correia (3-8, 5.29) will take the mound for the Twins on Saturday against RHP Andre Rienzo (4-4, 5.67).
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