Twins finish sweep, take control of AL Central

Friday, September 19th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

All the Minnesota Twins must do to win the AL Central is beat up on the lowly Detroit Tigers.

They already know how to do that.

Jacque Jones hit a pair of two-run homers off Bartolo Colon, helping Minnesota complete a pivotal three-game sweep of the visiting Chicago White Sox with a 5-3 victory Thursday night.

The Twins increased their division lead to 3 1/2 games with nine to play. Seven of those are against Detroit, which is on pace to set the post-1900 record for most losses in a season and has lost 11 of 12 games to Minnesota this season.

``We can't afford to let down,'' Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``We have to come back with the same enthusiasm.''

After losing two straight in Chicago last week and falling two games back, the Twins won five in a row against the White Sox in a span of eight days.

The defending AL Central champions have won six straight overall and eight of nine. And with all those games left against the Tigers (38-114), the race seems practically over.

``There's still time left,'' White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said. ``But we've got to run the table.''

In other AL games, it was: Texas 2, Seattle 1 in 10 innings; Boston 4, Tampa Bay 3; Kansas City 3, Cleveland 2; and Toronto 10, Detroit 6. New York and Baltimore tied 1-1 in a game stopped after five innings because of rain and Hurricane Isabel.

Chicago plays seven games against Kansas City, which is 4 1/2 out, and three against the Yankees.

Kyle Lohse (14-11) allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings for the win, leaving to a standing ovation from the crowd of 39,948.

J.C. Romero got the last out in the seventh, LaTroy Hawkins pitched the eighth and Eddie Guardado the ninth for his 38th save in 41 tries.

Colon (14-13) had thrown three straight complete games. He gave up five runs _ four earned _ in six innings.

The Twins, who have the best second-half record in the majors, held Chicago to seven runs and four extra-base hits in the series.

``What can I say? It's demoralizing,'' Carl Everett said.

Red Sox 4, Devil Rays 3

At Boston, Manny Ramirez hit his 35th homer and Tim Wakefield (11-7) allowed three runs _ one earned _ in 8 1-3 innings as the Red Sox increased their wild-card lead to 2 1/2 games over Seattle.

Byung-Hyun Kim allowed a run-scoring groundout to Carl Crawford in the ninth, then retired Rocco Baldelli for his 14th save.

Rangers 2, Mariners 1, 10 innings

At Arlington, Texas, Laynce Nix blooped an RBI single in the 10th off Shigetoshi Hasegawa (2-3) after a leadoff double by Alex Rodriguez, sending the Mariners to their fourth loss in five games.

Francisco Cordero (5-7) struck out four in two innings.

Yankees 1, Orioles 1, tie

At Baltimore, a steady rain and the imminent arrival of winds up to 35 mph caused the game to be stopped after five innings. Umpires called it after a 44-minute wait.

The individual statistics will count, and the game will be made up as part of a doubleheader in New York on Sept. 26 or 27.

New York, closing in on its sixth straight AL East title, leads second-place Boston by five games with 10 to play.

Jason Giambi hit an RBI double in the third, but Luis Matos had a run-scoring single in the bottom half off Mike Mussina, who was trying for his 200th win.

Royals 3, Indians 2

At Cleveland, Jose Lima (8-1) came off the disabled list and allowed two runs in five innings for his first win since July 27.

Curtis Leskanic pitched the ninth for his second save. C.C. Sabathia (13-9) gave up three runs in seven innings.

Tigers 10, Blue Jays 6

At Detroit, the Tigers lost their 114th game, the fifth-highest total in major league history, and Mike Maroth became the first pitcher in 29 years to lose 21 games.

Detroit, which has lost six straight, was swept in a series for the 20th time this season. The Tigers must at least split their remaining 10 games to avoid tying the post-1900 record of 120 losses, set by the 1962 Mets.

Maroth (7-21) allowed seven runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. He is the first 21-game loser since 1974, when Mickey Lolich lost 21, and Bill Bonham, Randy Jones and Steve Rogers lost 22.

Josh Towers (7-1) allowed four runs in six innings.