MINNEAPOLIS — Mired in a six-game losing streak, Jeff Samardzija tried to focus on each pitch, rather than dwell on past mistakes.
The soon-to-be free agent helped the Chicago White Sox, and himself, by staying the course.
Samardzija allowed an early grand slam to rookie Eddie Rosario on Thursday, but wound up with his first win since July 28 when pinch hitter J.B. Shuck’s two-run triple in the seventh inning sent Chicago over the Minnesota Twins 6-4.
“Usually when you’re in the situation I’ve been in here the last month, that next turning point doesn’t come easy,” Samardzija said. “Very rarely do you come out and go eight innings shutout and get the win 10-nothing. Usually you’ve got to kick that by going out and working hard, and just trusting your stuff and battling.”
Jose Abreu had three hits for Chicago and David Robertson got his 28th save in 34 chances.
Samardzija walked a season-high four, but went 6 1-3 innings and allowed five hits and four runs. Rosario’s slam in the third made it 4-1.
In his previous six starts, all in August, Samardzija had an 8.82 ERA, giving up 33 earned runs in 33 2-3 innings with eight home runs.
“You know when he goes out there, it might not be going his way but just competitive-wise what he brings to the table, he grinded through it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Nobody wants to give up the homer like that, but he put it behind him and ends up getting a win out of it. So, it’s a nice start to September for him.”
Samardzija is nearing the end of a one-year, $9.8 million deal with Chicago, but he said he isn’t concerned about his approaching free agency.
“No, I’ve got enough out there to show what I can do,” Samardzija said. “For me it’s more about not letting things get away from you because you’re pressing too hard. For me, I like to grit my teeth and go a little harder when I’ve got a little adversity. Sometimes it’s not the best thing.”
The White Sox trailed 4-3 when Alexei Ramirez led off the seventh with an infield single that Twins reliever Casey Fien (4-6) kicked with his leg when it looked as if shortstop Eduardo Escobar already had a play on the ball. Geovany Soto walked, Carlos Sanchez sacrificed and Shuck delivered.
Shuck hasn’t started a game since Aug. 19 and had just five plate appearances in that stretch. He had been 6 for 26 with three RBIs as a pinch-hitter this season.
“When you’re pinch-hitting, you’ve got to be ready to go right off the bat and when you get a pitch to hit, you’ve got to be ready,” Shuck said. “You’ve got to look for something out over the plate and try to just stay short and compact. It kind of works with my swing. I’ve just tried to continue to work at it, and you know what? It’s worked so far.”
SETTING THE STARTERS
Ventura said right-hander Erik Johnson will start Sunday’s game in Kansas City, with left-hander Chris Sale being pushed back one day to start Monday at home against Cleveland in a Labor Day afternoon start.
Johnson, who was chosen the International League pitcher of the year, was 11-8 with a 2.37 ERA with Triple-A Charlotte. He spent the entire season in Charlotte after making 10 starts the previous two seasons with Chicago, going 4-3 with a 4.73 major-league ERA.
White Sox: Chicago heads to Kansas City and will start LHP John Danks (6-12, 4.82 ERA) in the first game of the series against RHP Kris Medlen (3-0, 3.51). Danks has lost four straight decisions, allowing two runs and seven hits in six innings against Seattle on Aug. 28.