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Twins defeat White Sox, halt 13-game losing streak

Byron Buxton #25 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates his home run with left fielder Eddie Rosario #20 during the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at Target Field on September 1, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Marilyn Indahl/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS — Even when the White Sox hit for Jose Quintana, they find a way to fail him.

Although he struck out eight Minnesota Twins and walked none in five innings, Quintana had a rare bad night Thursday against a team trying to halt a horrendous 13-game losing streak, getting shelled for seven runs on seven hits including home runs by Byron Buxton and Trevor Plouffe. The 8-5 loss hiked Quintana’s American League-best 2.77 ERA to 3.05.

The Sox, who have failed for years to provide run support for their All-Star left-hander, gave it a good go by banging out 12 hits in five innings against Ervin Santana. But it took Todd Frazier’s 34th homer, a solo shot to left, and back-to-back doubles by Tim Anderson and Carlos Sanchez to get two runs. The other 10 hits went to waste on the first day of September, a grim reminder of opportunities wasted in May, June and July.

“We left a lot of guys out there,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “You look up there, we left 10 guys at one point and they cashed everybody in. When you see you left 10 guys and they didn’t leave any at one point, that really tells the tale more than Q.”

“That’s kind of been the story of our year,’’ outfielder Adam Eaton said. “With runners in scoring position we haven’t been able to get the big hit.’’

Jose Abreu added two runs with a 423-foot opposite field home run against left-hander Taylor Rogers in the sixth before right-hander Tommy Kahnle took over for Quintana (11-10) to open the sixth. Abreu, who reached base in every one of his 27 games in August, had nine homers and 20 RBI in his last 26 games since Aug. 4, and while seeing that production has been something of a relief to general manager Rick Hahn, the Sox have to wonder what might have been had that been there during the first half of the season.

The Sox ranked 11th, 12th and 13th in the American League in average, on-base percentage, walks, slugging, OPS, homers and runs per game. That lack of punch contributed greatly to playing in 47 games decided by one run, second only to the Seattle Mariners, and in 75 decided by two runs or less.

Their 3-2 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday, in which ace Chris Sale pitched eight innings of two-run ball, marked the 20th time they’ve lost when holding an opponent to three runs or fewer.

The Sox had three hits all day Wednesday, then got three in the first inning Thursday but did not score. It’s been that kind of maddening season for the Sox, who fell to 63-70 against an AL Central foe that is now 50-84. The Sox have lost 30 of their last 41 games in the division, including four straight this week to open a seven-game road trip.

“Given how we’ve performed overall as an offensive unit, that’s probably the biggest culprit in any of the issues we’ve had with our won-loss record,’’ Hahn said Thursday. “That said, with one-run games, people tend to point toward the bullpen and some people even point to luck, as one of the big factors that dictates how you do in one-run games. Fundamentally, the offense needs to improve across the board.’’

Frazier’s homer was the most by a Sox third baseman since current manager Robin Ventura hit 34 in 1996. It gave him 84 RBI, but he carried a .212 average into the game.

“We have to own the record,’’ Hahn said.

“There are some positives we can read into and be like, ‘We’re not far away.’ But we still have a very strong need for improvement.’’