MINNEAPOLIS -- Tyler Flowers had already scanned Jake Peavys vitals before Robin Ventura reached the mound in the eighth inning Wednesday and knew he was good to go.
The White Sox catcher was convinced his starting pitcher was more than capable of handling the games biggest make-or-break moment even though he had thrown 112 pitches. Flowers heard it in Peavys voice and saw it in his eyes and supported the decision to go after Joe Mauer with the tying run only 90 feet away and the go-ahead run at first and two outs.
Also convinced, Ventura left Peavy in and he didnt disappoint as he retired Mauer and led the White Sox to a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Flowers and Alejandro De Aza scrapped together just enough offense and Addison Reed closed out a series victory for the White Sox and a 4-2 road trip with his 18th save in 21 tries.
The biggest thing is, how are they mentally? Flowers said. How are they feeling? Are they still confident? Are they still being aggressive throwing pitches and not finessing strikes in there because thats when you get hurt. Hes fired up.
Ventura didnt need much to be convinced.
The Twins were only in their fortuitous position after Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis committed an error with two outs to put runners on the corners for Mauer.
Before the eighth inning, Peavy had shown few signs of weakness aside from Danny Valencias second-inning solo homer.
Ventura walked to the mound, heard what he needed to and headed for the dugout even though left-hander Leyson Septimo was ready to face the lefty Mauer.
He still wanted it, Ventura said. I trust him. If I go out there and you hear the right thing, you are going to keep him in there. Late in the game, thats the guy you want in there.
Peavy needed only two pitches to prove Ventura right. After he missed with a fastball, Peavy came back with inside another heater and Mauer popped out to shallow left.
Peavy, who limited the Twins to an earned run and five hits in eight innings, gave a quick fist-pump as he left the mound with the lead intact. He struck out eight and walked two.
This guy is hitting .330, Peavy said of Mauer. You dont want him up in a situation like that. Robin came out to make sure I was comfortable facing him in that situation. We had Septimo ready. But I really was (comfortable) simply because of how we pitched him earlier. Decided to stay hard in and try to get him to hit the ball in the air, and fortunately we were able to do that.
The combination of De Aza and Flowers was fortunate enough to get Peavy enough support.
De Aza opened the game with a single off Twins starter Scott Diamond (9-5) and quickly stole second base. He then alertly moved to third base when Valencia had to dive to retrieve Youkilis grounder and De Aza scored on Adam Dunns sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.
Then Flowers got involved.
After a single in his first at-bat, Flowers tied the game with an RBI groundout in the fifth inning -- his first RBI since May 20.
But Flowers wasnt finished.
He led off the eighth inning with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Orlando Hudsons grounder. His work on the bases became critical when De Aza, who finished 3-for-4 and 7-for-13 in the series, lined the ball off Diamond for an RBI single and a 3-2 lead.
Flowers -- who has struggled to produce consistent offense because of his limited role off the bench -- said he was pleased to contribute in ways other than handling the pitching staff and on defense.
Its tough not getting regular at-bats, Peavy said of Flowers. When he got some regular at-bats what hes done, especially a power guy with a long swing, to go up there and keep his feel (is good).