Keynan Middleton stood one out away from his first save since 2021.
He relished the chance to face Minnesota Twins shortstop Carlos Correa.
Middleton struck out Correa swinging — his third punchout of the inning — to secure a 6-4 victory for the Chicago White Sox in front of 11,468 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“I knew I was going to face Correa and I don’t like him,” Middleton said. “I liked that. I enjoyed that a lot.”
Asked why, Middleton referenced the 2017 Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal: “I mean, he’s a cheater.”
Middleton pitched in the American League West for the Los Angeles Angels — including 64 appearances in 2017 — while Correa was with the Astros.
Relievers Aaron Bummer, Gregory Santos, Kendall Graveman and Middleton came up big Wednesday as the Sox won their third straight.
Eloy Jiménez broke a 4-4 tie with an RBI single in the seventh. The Sox added another run in the eighth thanks in part to Billy Hamilton’s speed on the way to their first series victory of the season.
“Winning is really important to the energy, really to everything in that clubhouse,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “You need to win some baseball games to maintain that energy that you need to work with and play with.
“However, in that (10-game losing) streak that we went through, these guys kept that energy and they kept that work ethic and it’s paying off now.”
The Sox completed the game without third baseman Jake Burger, who left after a fourth-inning strikeout with discomfort in his left side.
“Wish I felt better,” Burger said. “Felt it on the changeup up and in that didn’t drop. Kind of a weird pitch and a weird swing. I get evaluated (Thursday) morning. See from there what happens.
“I want to play all the time whenever I can. I’ll do everything I can to get myself back to where I was.”
Luis Robert Jr. provided early offense for the Sox with a three-run homer in the first. The Twins scored three in the third and took the lead on a solo homer by Nick Gordon an inning later.
The Sox tied the game at 4 in the fourth on an RBI single by Tim Anderson, who had three hits.
They found themselves in serious trouble after Santos slipped while trying to field a bunt in the seventh. Jorge Polanco reached to load the bases with no outs.
Santos worked his way out of it.
First, Correa hit a grounder to the shortstop Anderson, who fired home for a force. Then Byron Buxton hit a broken-bat grounder back to the mound. Santos stopped it with his bare hand, recovered and threw home for another force.
Santos got out of the situation without allowing a run, striking out Trevor Larnach to complete an eight-pitch at-bat.
“He got out of a big-time jam against really, really good hitters,” Grifol said. “Outings like this are what makes talent like that become special. They need these types of performances to continue to grow and develop.”
The Sox took the lead after the escape on Jiménez’s RBI single.
Yasmani Grandal singled in the eighth, his third hit, and was lifted for Hamilton. He moved to second on a bunt and used his legs to score from there when Elvis Andrus grounded out to the second baseman Polanco, who ranged to the shortstop side of the bag to field the ball and make an off-balance throw to first.
“It’s speed, it’s instinct — he’s electric,” Grifol said of Hamilton.
The Sox turned to Middleton for the ninth.
“This guy is a gamer,” Grifol said. “He’s been through it before and I felt comfortable with him in that situation.”
Middleton walked Polanco with two outs but struck out Correa for his first save since May 30, 2021, while with the Seattle Mariners.
“Honestly the way Kendall threw the ball in the (1-2-3) eighth inning, it was great. I thought he would go out and finish the ninth,” Middleton said. “But I was ready. We are all ready down there in the bullpen to get three outs at a time, and I think we have some making up to do.
“We are just starting to get going and rolling together.”