MINNEAPOLIS -- In picking up his ninth win of the season and lowering his ERA to 3.04 over 21 starts during Wednesday's 3-2 victory over the Twins, Jake Peavy certainly has the numbers to consider his 2012 season more than satisfying.
That fact becomes especially true two years removed from surgery to reattach his lat muscle and after he was shut down in the final month of a very un-Peavy-like 2011 showing, as he moved down the road to recovery. But there's still something more important missing, something greater for the team to accomplish, for the right-hander to hand out the highest possible grade.
"I feel excited to be able to help to this point, but we want to win," said Peavy, after throwing 114 pitches over eight innings before 34,823 at Target Field. "It will be a satisfying season in this clubhouse for everybody, no matter what the numbers are at the end, if we find a way to win this [American League] Central and get in the playoffs.
"Certainly, it does feel gratifying to be healthy for the team. I've wanted to be healthy the whole time and make quality starts."
More quality starts from Peavy (9-7) increase that chance for White Sox postseason participation. And Peavy needed every bit of his one earned run allowed on five hits to edge out a quality start turned in by Twins ace Scott Diamond (9-5).
The White Sox (57-47) held a 3-2 lead in the eighth with two outs and Denard Span on first when Ben Revere reached on a Kevin Youkilis fielding error, with Span racing to third as the ball knocked off the third baseman's glove and rolled into left. Joe Mauer, with his .321 average, was next to the plate, and manager Robin Ventura made a brief mound visit to chat with Peavy.
Left-handed reliever Leyson Septimo had been warming up, but this was Peavy's game to win or lose. At 1-0 in the count, Mauer popped up a 90-mph Peavy fastball to shortstop Alexei Ramirez and ended the threat.
"We 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," said Peavy of the Mauer at-bat. "You don't want to face him too much in that situation, because he's going to throw some hits out there. Joe Mauer is Joe Mauer, and this guy is hitting like .330."
"Both guys really battled hard out there," said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire of Peavy and Diamond. "Unfortunately, we couldn't come up with a big hit there at the end."
This Twins' near-miss ending extended to the ninth, even when closer Addison Reed (18th save) retired the first two hitters on just six pitches. But Ryan Doumit reached on a double to right, a sinking line drive that barely eluded Alex Rios' diving attempt.
Reed walked Danny Valencia, who homered earlier in the game, on a borderline 3-2 pitch. Pinch-runners Darin Mastroianni and Alexi Casilla pulled off a double steal without much of a challenge, putting the winning run in scoring position. There was a method behind Ventura's decision to concede the stolen bases.
"These guys put it in play very well," Ventura said. "If you start messing around and jockeying around and covering, you are just opening up holes. If they get a hit, they are going to have to win on a real hit and not one of those where you are covering and it just kind of slips through."
Brian Dozier had a chance to deliver that hit, but Reed got him out in front on a changeup and induced a game-ending fly ball to Alejandro De Aza in center.
"Yeah, I just wanted to make it a little interesting," said a smiling Reed, who threw 24 pitches. "I made a couple of pitches that they didn't swing at and I missed a couple of spots. But I got out of it and we got out of here with the series win. So I'm feeling good."
"We've been swinging good, but these guys have a good pitching staff," Gardenhire said. "You're gonna face some tough pitchers. It doesn't matter who they throw out there."
Diamond (9-5) gave up the lead in the eighth without the ball leaving the infield. Tyler Flowers reached on an infield single off of Diamond's glove, moved to second on a wild pitch and raced to third on Orlando Hudson's slow roller to Valencia.
De Aza (three hits) followed with a line drive off of Diamond's thigh, and by the time Diamond retrieved the ball, Flowers had beaten the throw home. Diamond exited the game after 7 1/3 innings, yielding three runs on eight hits, while striking out three and not issuing a walk.
Meanwhile, Peavy fanned eight and walked two while working on six days' rest. In ducking out of the ballpark early on Tuesday, Peavy was more worried about getting proper rest for Wednesday's 12:11 p.m. CT first pitch than losing the feel on his pitches with the long layoff.
As this 19-game stretch to start the second half concludes, with 16 of them coming on the road, the White Sox are happy to go home with a 10-9 mark and no worse than a 2 1/2-game division lead. They also were happy Peavy produced a successful sendoff into Thursday's scheduled off-day.
"He was great," said Ventura of Peavy. "Again, he competes ... it's the way he goes about his plan. It's good for me. I trust that with him."