MINNEAPOLIS -- Jake Peavy took the mound Monday night with a heavy heart and the letters "AK" on his cap. He sputtered early and took the loss, as the White Sox fell, 4-1 to Minnesota in front of 35,659 at Target Field.
But Peavy competed with a tenacity he thought would make his late friend Darrel Akerfelds proud.
Akerfelds, San Diego's bullpen coach since 2001, died on Sunday after a lengthy fight with pancreatic cancer. Peavy, a Padre from 2002-09, considered the 50-year-old Akerfelds a mentor.
"It was tough," a solemn Peavy said. "Obviously, losing him has been tough, even when you know it's likely to happen."
Peavy said he normally exchanged texts with Akerfelds on days he pitched. Talking to Akerfelds' girlfriend, Julie, before Monday's game was difficult.
"But you go out there and compete," Peavy said. "He wouldn't want it any different. It's fitting on a night that I had to battle as hard as I could battle -- it just kept coming into my mind. As hard as he battled something, today I just wanted to battle for him and make him proud. I would have liked to battle and won, but it just wasn't meant to be. I gave it all I had."
Peavy struggled early, putting the White Sox in a deficit. A stellar showing from Minnesota's Francisco Liriano -- who allowed only a run on four hits in seven innings -- ensured Chicago wouldn't make up the difference.
Monday's game marked the fourth time in the last six games the White Sox were held to exactly one run. But Liriano seemed to account for most of those struggles at the plate this time.
It was the left-hander's fifth-consecutive winning decision against Chicago, dating back to July 16, 2010.
"You know he's got his changeup," White Sox manager Robin Venture said. "In the past, when he's had it, and he's throwing [his fastball] that hard, that becomes tougher."
Peavy eventually settled in, but not before giving up three runs through the first two innings."We haven't scored a whole lot," Peavy said. "But that's no excuse. You have to find ways to be better. Just tried to battle and keep us in tonight's game. We stayed in it. But Liriano was just too good."
Peavy allowed Minnesota's first run in the first inning on Joe Mauer's sacrifice fly. Denard Span scored on the play after a leadoff double.
Peavy then surrendered back-to-back one-out singles to Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier in the second. Dozier's hit to right came on a hit-and-run, sending Plouffe racing to third. Alex Rios was charged with an error for misfiring his throw, allowing Plouffe to score. Dozier took third on the play and scored on a two-out single from Jamey Carroll. Gordon Beckham helped Peavy escape the inning without further damage, making a diving stop and throw to retire Ben Revere.
"That's big for us, especially against a guy who has proven himself over the years," Twins catcher Drew Butera said. "He had good stuff tonight with a good sinker and good slider. So for us to get on the board early for Liriano was good for us and good for him, too."
Alexei Ramirez drove in Chicago's lone run in the seventh. Alex Rios led off with a double to the left-field corner, one of the South Siders' few hard-hit balls against Liriano, who improved to 2-7 and won for the first time since May 30. Rios scored on Ramirez's sacrifice fly to right two batters later.
The Twins scored an additional run in the seventh on Plouffe's sacrifice fly against reliever Nate Jones. The run was charged to Hector Santiago after he allowed two singles and two walks in relief of Peavy. Minnesota loaded the bases again with Jones' walk of Dozier, but Jones induced a groundout to strand the runners.
Peavy also gave up hits to two of the Twins' first three batters in the third, but didn't allow a run. He settled in from there, allowing two hits and striking out five from the fourth through his sixth and final inning. Peavy yielded a season-high 10 hits.
Third baseman Kevin Youkilis went 1-for-4 in his White Sox debut, singling in the eighth inning. The best part of his day, though, was not having to wonder about his immediate future.
"It will be good to call my wife tonight and talk to her," Youkilis said. "It will be good just to be stable and not worry. I know where I'm at. Go to a hotel room. Wake up. Put the clothes on and not worry about packing clothes and all that other stuff."
Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.