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Dave Campbell / Associated Press, Published June 25 2012

Liriano leads Minnesota past White Sox

MINNEAPOLIS – Francisco Liriano faced runners at the corners with only one out in the seventh.

This was precisely the type of situation where he’s faltered so many times before, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn’t budge.

“I just have a lot of confidence in him,” Gardenhire said.

Liriano deftly navigated his way out of the jam while spoiling Kevin Youkilis’ first game with Chicago, pitching a season-high seven innings to lead the Twins to a 4-1 victory over the White Sox on Monday night.

“I’m more relaxed. I’m not trying to make a perfect pitch,” Liriano said. “I’m not worried about the runners like I was before.”

Making his first start against the rival White Sox since his no-hitter in Chicago nearly 14 months ago, Liriano (2-7) allowed just three singles, two walks and a double. The lefty struck out five, winning for the first time this month while holding the White Sox without a run until Alexei Ramirez’s sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Jared Burton notched the save for the second straight game for the Twins, filling in for injured closer Matt Capps.

Youkilis singled in the eighth inning for his first hit as Chicago’s new third baseman, acquired in a trade with Boston on Sunday, but that was too little too late for Jake Peavy (6-4), who fell to 0-3 in his five June starts.

“Offensively, we just seem to be in a funk,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Eventually, it’ll happen. Hopefully it happens tomorrow.”

Liriano won’t be pitching, so they’ll have a better chance then.

“He was throwing his fastball and commanding it where he wants,” Youkilis said. “When he can do that, he’s one of the best pitchers there is, like in the past.”

Liriano was so lost on the mound in his first six starts this season the pitching-thin Twins had no choice but to bump him to the bullpen, where he still struggled until their staff became so depleted they had no alternative but to put him back in the rotation.

He responded with six shutout innings that day against Oakland, and despite two losses and two no-decisions since then his renaissance features a 2.41 ERA with 40 strikeouts and only 20 hits and one home run allowed in 37 1-3 innings.

Liriano walked Paul Konerko with two outs in the fourth, and Alex Rios followed with a sharp single. But he struck out A.J. Pierzynski.

Rios led off with a double and took third on a wild pitch. Pierzynski hit a hard comebacker that Liriano managed to stop with his shoe and freeze Rios while throwing to first for the out. But he had two strikes on Dayan Viciedo before throwing three straight balls for a walk, the last of which bounced in the dirt and hit catcher Drew Butera below the waist. Chicago Minnesota

ab r h bi ab r h bi

De Aza cf 4 0 0 0 Span cf 5 1 2 0

Youkils 3b 4 0 1 0 Revere rf 5 0 4 0

A.Dunn dh 4 0 0 0 Mauer dh 4 1 3 1

Konerk 1b 3 0 0 0 Wlngh lf 2 0 0 0

Rios rf 4 1 2 0 Mornea 1b 4 0 1 0

Przyns c 3 0 0 0 Plouffe 3b 3 1 1 1

Viciedo lf 3 0 0 0 Dozier ss 3 1 1 0

AlRmrz ss 3 0 2 1 Butera c 4 0 1 0

Bckhm 2b 3 0 0 0 JCarrll 2b 3 0 1 1

Totals 31 1 5 1 Totals 33 4 14 3

Chicago 000 000 100— 1

Minnesota 120 000 10x—4

E—Rios (3), Dozier (10). DP—Chicago 3. LOB—Chicago 7, Minnesota 13. 2B—Rios (13), Span 2 (19), Butera (5). SB—Revere (15). SF—Al.Ramirez, Mauer, Plouffe.<

IP H R ER BB SO

Chicago

Peavy L,6-4 6 10 3 3 1 7

H.Santiago Zc 2 1 1 2 0

N.Jones Xc 0 0 0 2 0

Ohman 1 2 0 0 0 1

Minnesota

Liriano W,2-7 7 4 1 1 2 5

Perkins H,10 1 1 0 0 0 1

Burton S,2-3 1 0 0 0 1 0

N.Jones pitched to 1 batter in the 8th.

HBP—by Ohman (Willingham). WP—Liriano.