MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins were nearly on the wrong side of perfection against White Sox rookie right-hander Zach Stewart on Monday night.
Stewart, making just his eighth career start, tossed seven perfect innings before finally giving up a leadoff double to Danny Valencia in the eighth inning. So while Stewart didn't spin his perfecto, it was more than enough to hand the Twins a 4-0 loss in the second game of a doubleheader at Target Field.
"It was a lot of fun," said Stewart, who helped give Minnesota its second defeat of the day after dropping the first game, 2-1. "It was just one of those things. In the 'pen, the ball was coming out good. I could tell it was going to be somewhat of a good night. I didn't know it was going to be that good. But it just felt good from the beginning."
Stewart, who entered his outing with a career 5.48 ERA and just one win -- which also came against the Twins on Aug. 6 -- baffled Minnesota hitters all night, allowing just that one hit over nine sensational innings to mark his first shutout and complete game.
He struck out nine and only eight balls left the infield, including Valencia's opposite-field double that landed in front of Alejandro De Aza and went all the way to the wall. The double came on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, as Valencia was able to work his way back despite falling into a 1-2 count.
"It was tough because I fell behind real quick," said Valencia, who hit a 2-2 fastball. "I thought some of those calls were questionable. But I knew eventually he'd try to backdoor me with a heater on the outside corner, and he made a pretty good pitch, but I was able to get the barrel out there."
But Valencia was stranded, as Rene Tosoni grounded out, Luke Hughes popped out and Brian Dinkelman struck out to end the frame.
It was the story of the day for the Twins, who scored just one run in 18 innings and fell to last place in the American League Central for the first time since June 17.
"It's terrible," Valencia said. "It's embarrassing really. We need to play better. We scored one run the whole day, and you can't do that. You have to score runs to win. It's frustrating for the offense."
Stewart, who set down 27 of the 28 batters he faced, relied on the help of his infield defense, including a few nice plays by third baseman Brent Morel. Joe Mauer nearly broke up his bid for perfection in the seventh with a hard line drive, but shortstop Alexei Ramirez snared it to end the inning.
"Obviously, Joe killed that ball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But we hit a couple other balls on the nose, but that third baseman made some nice plays down there on us also. So all you can do is swing it. You can't guide them."
Twins left-hander Scott Diamond, meanwhile, lasted just five innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out four.
"I could tell I just didn't have my best stuff today," said Diamond, who fell to 1-3 with a 4.56 ERA in four career starts. "I was having a rough time gripping the ball, and I had a rough 'pen. So I was really trying to feel it out there and work down in the zone. I tried to do the best job I could."
The White Sox got on the board in the second, when Alex Rios singled, reached third on a single from Morel and scored on a two-out hit from Juan Pierre.
Chicago added another run in the fifth, as Brent Lillibridge hit a leadoff double and later scored an RBI single by Ramirez. It marked Diamond's final inning, as he needed 90 pitches to record 15 outs.
"Diamond threw a lot of pitches early and wasn't as sharp as he has been, but he also limited the damage," Gardenhire said. "He had a lot of people left on the bases. He made pitches when we had to."
Right-handed reliever Kyle Waldrop also made his Major League debut with the Twins, tossing a scoreless sixth frame before running into trouble in the seventh. He retired the first two batters he faced that inning, but loaded the bases to set the stage for a two-run single from Morel.
Stewart later had an easy ninth inning, striking out Jason Repko and pinch-hitter Jason Kubel before getting Ben Revere to ground out on a nice play by Ramirez to end the game on his 114th pitch of the night.
"It's always nice to see a kid perform that way no matter if it's a pitcher or a hitter," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "A lot of satisfaction to see the kid the way he threw the ball. He kept the ball down, made very good pitches when he needed to make them. A few ground balls there, I think the defense helped him a little bit to stay out of trouble. He threw a tremendous game."