MINNEAPOLIS --- Quite a night for former Minnesota Twins.
Francisco Liriano pitched well in his White Sox debut and catcher A.J. Pierzynski crushed his old team with a go-ahead, two-run homer in the ninth inning of a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins in front of 36,424 at Target Field.
Liriano struck out eight in six strong innings and earned a no decision in what had to be an emotional outing against the only other team for which he had ever pitched.
Pierzynskis two-run blast to right off Jeff Gray landed in the top row of the bleachers to end a night in which the White Sox offense struggled. The blast also allowed the White Sox to gain a half-game on the Detroit Tigers, who trailed 4-1 against the Boston Red Sox in a game delayed by rain.
Matt Thornton (3-6) earned the victory with a scoreless inning pitched. Addison Reed allowed a run but earned his 17 th save in 20 tries.
Pierzynski, a full-time player for the Twins from 2001-03, ended a frustrating night for White Sox hitters when he crushed Grays 0-2 offering.
The White Sox had struggled to do anything against Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn, who entered the contest with a 7.99 ERA.
Blackburn limited the White Sox to two runs and five hits in eight inning. But all that was undone when Pierzynski ripped his career-high tying 18 th homer. Alex Rios started the inning with a single to left on an 0-2 pitch from Gray (5-1).
One day earlier, Liriano addressed the media and declared he felt weird after the move to his former division rivals.
But once Liriano took the mound it was evident he was back in a comfortable place.
While never razor-sharp, the left-hander flashed the electric stuff that has made him a household named since he broke into the league in 2006.
Liriano ended his first inning with the White Sox with a strikeout of former batterymate Joe Mauer. He struck out two more batters in the second inning and was quickly on his way.
Liriano did pitch deep in the count often and it caught up with him. He struck out six batters through four innings, but had also thrown 72 pitches.
He also started the sixth inning with a strikeout of Denard Span to give him 15 of 18 batters retired.
Then Liriano began to tire.
Trailing 1-0, Darin Mastroianni had a one-out infield single and Liriano followed with consecutive walks to Mauer and Josh Willingham. Justin Morneau tied the game with an RBI fielders choice and Danny Valencia singled in a run with two outs to give the Twins a 2-1 lead. Liriano then evaded further damage when Brian Dozier flew out to the warning track with the bases loaded.
Liriano threw a season-high 113 pitches in his Sox debut. He limited his former team to two earned runs and four hits in six innings and struck out eight while walked four batters.
In his previous two starts against the Sox, Blackburn allowed 14 earned runs in 9 13 innings. On Tuesday he couldnt be solved.
He retired the side in order in four of the first six innings.
The White Sox scored a run in the second when Rios doubled and moved to third on Pierzynskis single off the wall. Dayan Viciedo then gave the Sox a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly.
The White Sox then needed a rally all with two outs in the seventh to tie the game. Pierzynski walked and Viciedo singled before Alexi Ramirez tied it with a bloop single to left.