By Brian Sandalow
CHICAGO (AP) — Scott Diamond was looking for his first win in almost three months, and a familiar face helped him get it.
With catcher Eric Fryer making his first big league start, Diamond pitched into the seventh inning for his first win since June 20, and the Minnesota Twins avoided a three-game sweep by beating the Chicago White Sox 4-3 on Wednesday.
Diamond worked with Fryer when he spent more than a month with Triple-A Rochester this summer and connected with the young catcher. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he gave Fryer, who had an RBI single during the Twins’ three-run second, his first big league start because of his familiarity with Diamond.
“We just worked really well,” Diamond said. “Even after the first inning he was back there we were right on the same page from the very beginning.”
Diamond (6-11) allowed three runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings. Since his previous win, he was 0-5 with a 6.20 ERA in eight starts and spent time in Rochester.
Diamond’s season has been a frustrating one. He had surgery on his left elbow last December and didn’t make his debut this year until April 13. He started by winning three of his first five decisions but then struggled, only earning two more wins before Wednesday.
He carried a shutout into the fourth until Alejandro De Aza sent a full-count pitch into the bullpen in right field, cutting Minnesota’s lead to 4-1. The homer was De Aza’s 16th, and his first since Sept. 3 at New York.
Diamond’s day ended in the seventh when he allowed Jordan Danks’ two-run single to right field, cutting the lead to 4-3. But Casey Fien struck out Josh Phegley and Conor Gillaspie, pinch hitting for Leury Garcia, hit a flyball to right to end the inning.
Thanks in part to Fryer, an offense that gave him a 4-0 lead after batting twice and a bullpen that threw 2 2-3 scoreless innings, Diamond found a positive off which to build.
“I think just going down to Rochester was kind of that reset for me,” Diamond said. “I feel like I’m just building off of that a little bit.”
Minnesota had only scored four runs during the first two games of the series, but matched that in the first two innings against John Danks (4-14).
Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Colabello, Fryer and Brian Dozier drove in runs that helped the Twins win for the second time in eight games.
Glen Perkins pitched a scoreless ninth for his 36th save in 40 tries, snapping the White Sox’s five-game winning streak against the Twins, and handing them their 33rd loss in one-run games.
“You lose this many one-run games, it’s that one extra hit,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You’re close but you don’t get it done. That’s the thing about sports, when you’re close it stings more.”
Fryer was 1 for 3, and got credit from both Diamond and Gardenhire for what he did Wednesday.
“I was thrilled to be in there, thrilled to help out,” Fryer said. “Hopefully we keep rolling now.”
The Twins looked as if they might roll against John Danks, but after Dozier’s two-out single in the second the veteran left-hander retired the last 16 batters he faced.
Still, the first two innings led to John Danks’ fourth straight loss.
“I wish I could have those first couple of innings back,” he said. “I didn’t make good enough pitches and they hit (them). I’m glad I was able to go as deep as I did just to save the bullpen and finish strong.”
NOTES: The Twins’ last 11 games are against teams in the playoff hunt, which pleases Gardenhire. “We beat Tampa the other day on a home run late in the game and that was a good feeling. These guys get a taste of that. It’s not like our goal is not to knock the other team out. Our goal is to go and compete with these guys and give it everything we have. We owe it to baseball.” . Ventura said LHP Hector Santiago would get another start this season. Santiago isn’t among Chicago’s scheduled starters for its series this weekend in Detroit, but he could start as soon as then if somebody else needs to be skipped. . On Thursday in Oakland, Minnesota will start Kevin Correia (9-12, 4.31) against the Athletics’ Dan Straily (10-7, 4.11). Chicago is off, and on Friday, Andre Rienzo (2-2, 5.04) is expected to face Detroit’s Max Scherzer (19-3, 2.95).