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Buxton breaks out of slump in a big way as Twins pound White Sox

When Edouard Julien lined a ball off the left field wall and Alex Kirilloff blasted a homer in the first inning, it looked like the Twins carried all their streaks from the West Coast to Target Field.

Well, maybe not all of them.

Byron Buxton, recently benched for two games, snapped an 0-for-26 hitless streak with a three-run homer in the first inning and a solo homer in the fourth to propel the Twins to a 9-4 win over the White Sox in their first home game following the All-Star break.

Buxton didn’t hide his emotions as he rounded the bases during his first home run, rocketing a first-pitch fastball over the left field wall with a 114.3 mile-per-hour exit velocity for the third-hardest hit of his career. He punched the air once the ball cleared the wall. He let out a yell after touching first base and let out a few more on his way to second base. When he reached home plate, he clapped twice and shouted once more.

Walking through the line of high-fives in the dugout, Buxton broke into a smile. It was the fourth time he had a hitless streak extended at least 20 plate appearances this season, but the first one that saw his batting average dip as low as .193.

“The first ball he hit was like a torpedo heading out in that direction,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Can’t hit a baseball much harder than that.”

Buxton’s first homer keyed a five-run first inning against White Sox starter Lance Lynn, who has drawn trade interest around the league and pitched in front of at least eight scouts Friday. Poor defense played a part, too. Second baseman Elvis Andrus dropped the ball before Julien slid into second on his hit off the wall and Kirilloff pulled a homer to right field two pitches later. Andrus later bobbled a grounder for an infield hit.

In the fourth inning, Buxton had a more typical reaction to his second homer. The weight of his slump was gone and he pulled a two-strike slider down the left field line for the 10th multi-homer game of his career.

Buxton credited his teammates for keeping him positive throughout his slump and his kids for helping take his mind off of it.

“The face of the organization there having success and doing what he can do,” Twins starting pitcher Joe Ryan said. “He’s been hitting the ball so hard too. They just don’t always land. He’s gotten snubbed a little bit. It’s just good to see him go a lot farther than the stadium’s walls.”

BOXSCORE: Twins 9, White Sox 4Twins statistics, MLB league leaders

Lynn, the ex-Twin, has given up a league-high 28 homers this year, including a season-high four Friday. The Twins added onto their lead in the seventh inning after right fielder Zach Remillard dropped a fly ball with two outs. Lynn walked Julien and Kirilloff took advantage with a two-run double off the center field wall.

Julien is on a nine-game hitting streak and Kirilloff has eight extra-base hits in his last eight games.

“I like what that looks like, I’ll tell you that,” Baldelli said of Julien and Kiriloff hitting back-to-back. “Two very good young hitters. I think they’re feeding off each other a little bit.”

The Twins have scored at least five runs in seven of their eight games out of the All-Star break. That was a comforting fact for Ryan, who surrendered a solo homer to Andrew Benintendi on his first pitch of the game, the third leadoff homer he’s allowed this season.

Ryan struck out 10, matching his season high for the fourth time, but he yielded seven hits and four runs across six innings.

“We scored nine runs, and I think you can make some of those pitches a little bit easier knowing that you have that cushion,” said Ryan, who has allowed 13 homers over his last seven starts.