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Joe McEwing is sold on White Sox’ keystone combination

Alejandro De Azdrives go-ahead run eighth inning an infield single. | Genevieve Ross~AP

Alejandro De Aza drives in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning on an infield single. | Genevieve Ross~AP

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Updated: September 3, 2012 1:24PM

MINNEAPOLIS — Joe ­McEwing’s appreciation for shortstop Alexei Ramirez’s defense is growing.

“Seeing him from afar, I didn’t see how in tune to a game he is and how much range he really does have,’’ the White Sox’ third-base coach said.

McEwing, an infielder during his career, likes that Ramirez and second baseman Gordon Beckham not only flash range and strong arms, but they’re “impeccably’’ prepared.

“If anything happens during a game, Gordon and Ramirez are not surprised by it,’’ McEwing said. “They know what they’re going to do with every single ball before it happens. They’re comfortable in all game situations.’’

Ramirez and Beckham have scouting reports on hitters at their disposal, but they have the freedom to position themselves because ­McEwing, who’s in charge of positioning the infield, trusts their instincts. In fact, he encourages it.

“We go through spray charts and whatever, but at times we’ll let [Ramirez and Beckham] go on feel and play in a different spot,’’ ­McEwing said. “That’s what you want an infielder to do. He needs to have his own feel. On the field, you see what pitches are being called. You don’t see what pitch is being called in the dugout. You move on a pitch. He’s in tune to what’s going on.’’

“They’re one of the best combinations in baseball. From what I see day in and day out, they’re pretty special.’’

Day off for Beckham

Orlando Hudson made his third start since Kevin Youkilis joined the team, starting at second base for Beckham, who batted .188 in July.

“Defensively, he’s great. Offensively, he’s still in that period of trying to figure it out,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “He has to trust it and go with it because he’s hitting it hard, but some of them are unlucky. That’s the frustrating part of it when you’re trying to get back.’’

Fluid rotation

The rotation was tweaked again, with Francisco Liriano scheduled for Sunday against the Angels on four days of rest to give rookie Jose Quintana an eight-day breather. Philip Humber and Gavin Floyd will pitch Friday and Saturday, respectively, on five days of rest. Jake Peavy (four days), Chris Sale (10) and Quintana will face the Royals next week.

The extra-rest emphasis is on rookies Sale and Quintana.

“The most important thing is to make sure they’re healthy and competitive when they go out there and have every bit of ammo,’’ Ventura said.


Catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s day off was planned against lefty Scott Diamond for a day game after a night game. Pierzynski said he knows the right oblique that shelved him for five games is healed by how he felt after swinging and missing.

“Once I got through that, striking out twice [Monday], everything was full bore ahead,’’ Pierzynski said.

◆ In Pierzynski’s place, Tyler Flowers collected his third RBI of the season by beating out a double play. He also singled in the first and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth after leading off the inning with a single.

◆ The Sox won their seventh consecutive series against the Twins.

◆ Kevin Youkilis snapped an 0-for-15 rut with a single in the fourth.

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