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Despite loss, Twins happy with homestand

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a playoff berth at stake, every game has taken on added importance for the Twins. And Thursday's is one they probably would like back. After being staked to a 4-1 lead in the third, the Twins watched as the White Sox scored five unanswered runs for a 6-4 victory.

But despite the loss, the Twins wrapped up a successful homestand in which they took four of six from the Astros and White Sox. They now leave Minneapolis 1 1/2 games behind the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card spot to embark on a critical road trip -- one that could be pivotal in determining their postseason fate.

"You've got to think if we go out and win every series, we're going to like where we are at the end of the year, so that's really the focus," starter Kyle Gibson said. "Today, yeah, it stinks. It's a game we could have possibly won but we won the series, beat a good team in the White Sox and I think it still carries some momentum onto the road. I don't think the loss today will carry into anything because we did have a pretty good homestand."

The Twins have won four consecutive series, and six of their last seven. They started their last road trip -- also a three-city jaunt -- by getting swept by the Yankees, but recovered by sweeping a four-game series against Baltimore and taking two of three from Tampa Bay, both Wild Card contenders at that juncture.

The upcoming nine-game, 10-day trip will likely be even tougher. The Twins will have to take on the AL West-leading Astros and AL Central-leading Royals -- "the big boys," as manager Paul Molitor called them -- before facing the White Sox again.

"If you go back to 2009, 2010, there was probably the same feeling in September, so I think because we're saying that every time we go on the road, that means we're playing meaningful games and I think that's part of it," Gibson said. "Every homestand's going to be big, every road trip's going to be big at this point so we've got to go on the road and hopefully be above .500 just like we did last time."

The Twins will get outfielder Aaron Hicks back Friday after a DL stint, but they'll be without All-Star closer Glen Perkins, who will stay back for at least the beginning portion of the road trip as he deals with back issues. In addition, rookie designated hitter Miguel Sano, who has had an enormous impact since his callup, is dealing with a nagging right hamstring strain, though he is expected to play through it.

Despite that, the Twins have a chance to come back home in mid-September right in the thick of a Wild Card race.

"We'll regroup. We had a good homestand," Molitor said. "You try to be greedy when you can. It didn't work out today, but we'll come back and try to get off to a good start with a long road trip."

Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for
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