MINNEAPOLIS — White Sox hitters lead the American League with 644 strikeouts.
‘‘Yeah, you know what? We strike out too much,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘Shorten up with two strikes, put it in play. There needs to be more of that, and guys have to be able to do that.’’
Putting the bat on the ball wasn’t a problem Friday for the Sox, who struck out only three times but lost to the Minnesota Twins 5-4 on a two-out single by Brian Dozier in the ninth inning that scored Eduardo Escobar, who slid headfirst across the plate.
The Sox, who also lead the AL in runs scored in the ninth inning, scored twice in the ninth to pull even after getting nothing besides 400-foot home runs from Gordon Beckham and Jose Abreu in the first against Ricky Nolasco.
‘‘We’re hoping it can be corrected,’’ Ventura said of the Sox’ big strikeout totals. ‘‘You have to be able to put it in play. When you start striking out this much, nobody has to play defense against you. So put it in play. Put pressure on the defense. Shorten up.’’
Sox reliever Daniel Webb (4-1) put pressure on himself and his teammates by walking Escobar and Sam Fuld, the eighth and ninth batters in the Twins’ lineup, in the ninth. With closer Ronald Belisario pitching, Dozier singled to left fielder Dayan Viciedo, whose throw to catcher Adrian Nieto might have nabbed Escobar had it not been for a nifty slide.
‘‘I honestly didn’t think he could reach back with his other hand,’’ said Nieto, who wasn’t convinced Escobar was safe until he saw the replay. ‘‘You tip your cap to him.’’
The Sox tied the score against Twins closer Glen Perkins on a triple by Viciedo, an RBI single by Paul Konerko and an RBI double by Adam Eaton. Perkins escaped further damage by getting Conor Gillaspie to hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
‘‘It’s great to see us battle back,’’ Eaton said. ‘‘It’d be better to do that in the fifth and sixth. We can’t be waiting that long. I know it’s baseball — I understand that — but we need to put more pressure on people earlier. When our backs are to the wall, it shows what we can do.’’
‘‘They will grind,’’ Ventura said of his team. ‘‘That’s a nice thing to have. You just have to be able to put it all together. You are lacking in one spot one night, and you will end up losing.’’
As the Sox approach the midpoint of the season, what they lack becomes more apparent. Before the game, Ventura cited inconsistent contact. Winning with a high strikeout rate is possible, he said, but ‘‘you don’t have as good a chance. It makes it very hard.’’
Tyler Flowers, struggling through a 5-for-59 slump, struck out for the 44th time in 92 plate appearances in the second but kept the ninth-inning rally going with a single to center. It was a small consolation for a guy who badly needed a lift, but the Sox need more than moral victories to be contenders.
‘‘I think we definitely can compete,’’ Eaton said. ‘‘We just need to find that consistency somewhere.’’