CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Minnesota Twins scored seven late runs to record a 9-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday and increase their lead over their American League Central rival.
The Twins scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, pulled away with five more in the next inning to establish a seven-game lead over the White Sox, with just under three weeks remaining in the regular season.
Minnesota outfielder Denard Span capped the scoring with a bases-clearing double and finished 2-for-5 with four RBIs.
"To come in here and take this game, I think mentally it's got to hurt them a little bit," Twins reliever Jesse Crain told reporters. "It's a huge win, probably one of the biggest of the season for sure."
The two teams were tied at the top of the division on August 10 with a 63-49 record, but since then Minnesota (86-58) has become one of the hottest teams in baseball with a 23-9 record and appear on the verge of their second successive division title.
Left-hander Francisco Liriano pitched six innings and allowed three runs for the Twins to improve to a career-best 14-7.
Liriano allowed a game-tying two-run single to Alexei Ramirez in the fifth and the White Sox took the lead with a run in the sixth before the Twins rallied when Chicago starter John Danks (13-11) turned the game over to the White Sox bullpen.
Joe Mauer finished with three hits and Delmon Young added a home run for the Twins.
"Before the series, you know it's tough and you have to probably sweep," said White Sox slugger Paul Konerko after they slumped to 79-65.
"But you just continue to play hard and who knows, we get the next two and keep battling until they tell you that you can't battle anymore."
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue/Greg Stutchbury)