Crede's homer leads Twins' thumping of former Chicago mates

CHICAGO -- Ron Gardenhire had seen it so many times that when Joe Crede started rounding the bases at U.S. Cellular Field, one thought crossed his mind.

And it can't be printed.

Then, the realization hit the Minnesota Twins' manager.

"This time, it was for us, so that's good," Gardenhire said.

Crede homered against his former team, Justin Morneau also went deep and Minnesota beat the Chicago White Sox 12-5 Friday night, spoiling Jose Contreras' comeback from a season-ending Achilles' injury.

Minnesota was leading 4-3 when Morneau homered off Clayton Richard to start a seven-run seventh, sending the Twins to a lopsided win in the first meeting since Chicago's 1-0 victory last year in a tiebreaker for the AL Central title.

Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin homered for the White Sox, but Contreras (0-1) struggled in his first start since he tore his left Achilles' tendon covering first against Boston on Aug. 9.

Crede, however, provided a big spark.

Just 3-for-16 in the first four games, he led off the second by driving a pitch from Contreras into the left-field bullpen to make it 2-0. That immediately drew boos from a crowd that gave him a standing ovation when he stepped to the plate and cheered during a pregame video tribute and introductions.

"The whole day has just been a whirlwind," Crede said. "I felt like I'd played a nine-inning ballgame by the time I got to the clubhouse over here -- just seeing everybody over there. Now, it's just about going out there and getting that win."

The White Sox tied it in the bottom half on Josh Fields' two-run single and took a 3-2 lead on Konerko's homer in the third, but Contreras couldn't hold it and the White Sox lost their third straight.

RBI singles in the fourth and fifth by Denard Span and Morneau gave the Twins a 4-3 lead, and they broke it open in the seventh against Richard, Mike MacDougal and D.J. Carrasco.

Richard and MacDougal combined to walk three straight batters after Morneau's homer, and Carrasco allowed five consecutive singles as the Twins pulled away.

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (1-0) was shaky but got the win, allowing three runs in five innings. Brian Duensing pitched three innings in his major league debut, allowing Quentin's two-run homer. But while a blowout developed, comebacks were the focus.

The fact that Contreras took the mound so soon was remarkable, considering he was coming off a career-threatening injury.

He had just been activated after spending three weeks on the disabled list with right elbow tendinitis when he went down against Boston. He underwent surgery two days later, and the White Sox did not expect him back until at least midseason -- if at all.

Instead, he showed up to spring training in good shape and earned a spot in the rotation.

"When you think about that injury he had, the way I look at it is it's just a victory to have him out there," Konerko said.

But while Contreras struggled, Crede made a smooth return to Chicago.

Crede was a fan favorite and a key member of the 2005 World Series championship team, but the White Sox let him go after chronic back problems shelved him most of the past two seasons. The Twins signed him to a one-year deal in late February after he received lukewarm interest on the open market, but he got a warm reception in his old home.

"Joe's a class act," Chicago's Jim Thome said. "Joe's what every teammate appreciates, for what he went through and how hard he worked this winter to get back. He's very special."

In some ways, his return sparked memories of Frank Thomas' first game back in Chicago with Oakland in 2006. There were loud cheers and a video tribute for the Big Hurt, a standing ovation before his first at-bat and boos after a home run moments later.

Two differences: Thomas went deep again, and Air Supply's "All Out of Love" didn't blare over the PA system when he stepped to the plate. So the White Sox can expect some musical retaliation when they visit Minnesota -- particularly Konerko and Brian Anderson.

"I've got some good stuff for them," Crede said.

Game notes
Twins RHP Scott Baker (stiff right shoulder) proclaimed himself ready to rejoin Minnesota's rotation after earning a win for Class-A Fort Myers on Friday night. Baker, on the 15-day DL because of soreness in his right shoulder, gave up one run and five hits in seven innings. He threw 70 pitches, 51 for strikes. "If he's feeling good, he needs to stretch out and make sure he continues to feel good," Gardenhire said before the game. ... Dropped from the leadoff spot after two games, Chicago's DeWayne Wise ended an 0-for-12 slide to start the season with a single in the sixth. He was promptly caught stealing.