Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Three homers not enough to secure opening sweep

Semien hits go-ahead HR before Lindstrom blows save in thrilling effort

CHICAGO -- The White Sox weren't exactly planning a championship parade following two hard-fought home victories over the Twins to open the 2014 season.

So all hope is not exactly lost following Thursday's 10-9 loss in a game played under expected chilly April Midwest conditions at U.S. Cellular Field. But it's definitely a contest filed under the "one that got away" category.

"If you look at the whole series, it's a good series, it's a good way to start the season," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, who set a career high with four hits. "This one is a little tough because we had a couple of chances to kind of seal it up."

"I'm going to give credit to the Twins," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "They battled, and they're the ones that put up the runs. They had a good offensive plan today, and they did well."

Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire's 999th career victory came on an afternoon when the White Sox held an 8-5 lead in the seventh and then a 9-8 lead after eight. But the relief quartet of Nate Jones, Maikel Cleto, Ronald Belisario and Matt Lindstrom combined to allow five runs on four hits and three walks over three innings in relief of Jose Quintana.

Two runs scored off of Lindstrom in the ninth, starting with a one-out walk to Josh Willingham and followed one out later by a game-tying single from Trevor Plouffe on a 3-2 sinker. Oswaldo Arcia delivered the game-winner by driving a triple just over the ahead of center fielder Adam Eaton, who robbed Arcia in the seventh with a running, leaping catch into the wall.

Dayan Viciedo's pinch-hit double, which dropped barely fair after second baseman Brian Dozier and first baseman Chris Colabello couldn't find the routine popup, and Arcia's ensuing throwing error set the White Sox up with a runner on third and one out in the ninth against Glen Perkins. But Alexei Ramirez lined out to shortstop, and pinch-hitter Paul Konerko smacked a hard first-pitch grounder to third to end the comeback.

A wild effort from the bullpen, culminating in Lindstrom's first blown save, was too much for the White Sox to overcome.

"Right now, the biggest thing I'm feeling is the guys battled so hard in the cold weather," Lindstrom said. "We put up some runs on the board, we came back when we were down, guys putting together great at-bats, playing good defense, so it feels bad kind of letting the team down in that sense."

Quintana allowed five runs, of which only two were earned, on five hits and struck out eight. He was in line for a victory when the White Sox scored three in the fifth and four in the sixth to erase a 5-1 deficit, but instead finished with his 28th no-decision since 2012.

That rally against Phil Hughes and Anthony Swarzak was highlighted by Adam Dunn's two-run homer and four RBIs from Jose Abreu. The big first baseman doubled home Eaton in the fifth and cleared the bases with his first career triple in the sixth.

Abreu already had grabbed the Twins' attention based on the two intentional walks he received Wednesday. He did a little more convincing of being the real deal offensively with his blasts on Thursday.

"I'm glad I won't see him for a while. The kid can really hit. We knew that coming in," said Gardenhire of Abreu. "We heard he was a really strong young man, and that's why we were pitching around him.

"No disrespect to Mr. Dunn. The way the guy is getting the barrel to the ball, you just try to limit the damage when he comes up in a lot of situations because he seems like he's on. He hits pretty much everything. Even when he makes an out, he seems like he gets the barrel to it. Looks like he really knows what he's doing hitting."

Marcus Semien broke an 0-for-13 season-opening hitless streak with a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth, after walking with the bases loaded in the sixth to force in a run and set up Abreu. Alejandro De Aza also homered for the third time, leaving him one short of the four homers he hit at U.S. Cellular Field last season.

On the bad news side of the story, Jones re-aggravated a left glute strain that kept him out of action until March 8 during Spring Training as he was warming up Thursday. He will be re-evaluated Friday.

"It went away [from Spring Training], but for some reason, I felt it today. So we're going to see how it feels tomorrow and go from there," Jones said. "It's kinda just in the back of your head. When you're thinking about something else besides hitting the mitt, then you see what happens. It's not good for the team."

Three games in Kansas City and Colorado are next for the White Sox, who will try to erase Thursday's come-from-ahead loss as quickly as possible.

"We'll battle back," Lindstrom said. "I feel like we're a resilient team, and we played our guts out today. That's the feeling as a closer when you don't get the job done. That's what really kind of hurts, but we're looking forward to getting on this road trip and seeing if we can be a good road team."

"They did a good job of avoiding the sweep there and fighting down to their last strike," Semien said. "We feel like any time we get two strikes, two outs in the ninth, it hurts when the other team wins."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
Read More: Chicago White Sox, Nate Jones, Maikel Cleto, Adam Eaton, Alejandro De Aza, Paul Konerko, Dayan Viciedo, Ronald Belisario, Jose Quintana, Alexei Ramirez, Marcus Semien, Tyler Flowers, Jose Abreu, Matt Lindstrom, Adam Dunn