CHICAGO (AP) — Asked about Tony La Russa, an emotional Miguel Cairo had to pause and take a drink of water to regain his composure.
It was that kind of day.
The Chicago White Sox watched La Russa step down as manager, and then beat the Minnesota Twins 3-2 on Monday night behind Johnny Cueto’s seven effective innings.
La Russa departed because of a pair of health issues, punctuating a disappointing season for the Hall of Famer in the same spot where he got his first job as a big league manager. The White Sox are 80-80 after beginning the year with championship aspirations.
Cairo played for La Russa before becoming his bench coach in Chicago. He took over after La Russa left the club on Aug. 30.
“He’s my mentor. I’ve learned so much from him,” Cairo said. “And of course I’m going to keep calling to keep learning. But we’re going to miss him, for sure.”
La Russa met with his team before announcing the move, and the players joined their former manager for his press conference about the decision.
“The last thing I said to the players in the meeting was that I love them,” said La Russa, a three-time World Series champion who turns 78 on Tuesday. “I can’t be more thankful.”
Josh Harrison hit a two-run homer in Chicago’s fourth win in five games. Cueto (8-10) stopped a personal four-game slide, and Liam Hendriks got three outs for his 37th save.
Minnesota dropped to 9-19 in its last 28 games. Gio Urshela hit a two-run homer, and Bailey Ober pitched five innings of two-hit ball.
“I had to grind a little bit today and battle,” Ober said. “Definitely they made some adjustments from the last outing. I kind of had to mix it up after the first two innings.”
The game was tied at 2 before Carlos Pérez drove in AJ Pollock with a two-out single against Griffin Jax (7-4) in the seventh. It was Pérez’s second career hit and first RBI.
The Twins loaded the bases with two out in the ninth, but Hendriks struck out Mark Contreras swinging to close it out.
“Just putting a couple runs on the board is not going to be enough to win these games,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Minnesota jumped in front in the first. Nick Gordon hit a two-out double and scored on Urshela’s 13th homer, a drive to right on a 1-1 pitch.
But that was it for the Twins against Cueto, who struck out four and walked none. The right-hander was shaken up after fielding Matt Wallner’s two-out infield single in the seventh, but he got Gilbert Celestino to bounce to third on his next pitch.
“I told them that I wanted to finish the inning,” Cueto said through a translator. “I made the right pitch to finish the inning.”
Chicago rallied in the second. With Pollock aboard on a one-out single, Harrison’s drive traveled just over the wall in left for his seventh homer.
Twins: INF Luis Arraez (left hamstring) missed his second straight game. Arraez, who is day to day, leads the AL with a .315 batting average, just ahead of New York Yankees star Aaron Judge. … RHP Trevor Megill was placed on the 15-day injured list with a left oblique strain. RHP Aaron Sanchez was brought up, and OF Kyle Garlick (left wrist sprain) was transferred to the 60-day IL.
Right-handers Josh Winder (4-5, 4.31 ERA) and Lucas Giolito (10-9, 5.00 ERA) take the mound on Tuesday night. Winder is 0-3 with a 6.29 ERA in his last five starts for the Twins. Giolito is looking for his first win since Aug. 24, going 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in his previous six outings for the White Sox.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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