Twins close within half-game of Tigers

Wednesday, September 20th 2006, 4:47 am
By: News On 6

At this rate, it won't be long before the Minnesota Twins take over the AL Central lead.

Justin Morneau had a career high 5 hits, Jason Bartlett and Torii Hunter homered, and the Twins beat the Boston Red Sox 7-3 Tuesday night to close within a 1/2 game of the division leading Detroit Tigers.

``We keep getting closer and closer a little bit every day,'' Morneau said. ``The only thing we can really control is if we win, and the rest will take care of itself. But we're in a good spot right now.''

With 9 wins in 11 games, the Twins (89-61) maintained a 4 1/2-game lead in the wild card race over the Chicago White Sox (85-66), who beat the Tigers 7-0.

Minnesota was 10 1/2 games back of Detroit on August 7.

``It's kind of exciting,'' Torii Hunter said. ``We're actually rooting for the Chicago White Sox. Can you believe that?''

In other games, it was: New York 6, Toronto 3; Oakland 7, Cleveland 3; Los Angeles 5, Kansas City 2; Seattle 9, Texas 7 in 10 innings; and Baltimore 5, Tampa Bay 4.

At Boston, Matt Garza (2-5) left with 2 outs in the 6th and Minnesota leading 6-2. Dennys Reyes pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings and Joe Nathan worked the 9th as the Twins improved to 76-0 when leading after 8 innings.

Boston's magic number for elimination in the AL East was cut to 1, and its magic number for elimination from the wild card berth dropped to 4.

Bartlett hit his second homer of the season, a 3 run shot in the 4 run 2nd off Tim Wakefield (7-10).

White Sox 7, Tigers 0

Freddy Garcia (15-9) allowed 1 hit in 8 shutout innings for the second straight start, and A.J. Pierzynski hit a grand slam for a 4-0 lead in the 4th against Justin Verlander (16-9).

Garcia, who came within 4 outs of a perfect game against the Angels in his previous start, walked Curtis Granderson starting the game, allowed a single to Ivan Rodriguez and then retired 23 straight before walking Brandon Inge with 2 outs in the 8th. Bobby Jenks pitched the 9th to complete the 2 hitter.

Since taking a season high 10 game lead over then 2nd place Chicago after play on August 7, when their record stood at 76-36, the Tigers have gone 14-25.

``There's a lot of baseball left,'' manager Jim Leyland said. ``We're going to have to get rolling a little better offensively if we want to get in.''

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3

Bobby Abreu hit a tiebreaking homer in the 7th, and center fielder Johnny Damon made a great catch of Russ Adams' fly with his back to the plate that saved 3 runs.

Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui also homered for the visiting Yankees, who lowered their magic number for a 9th straight AL East title to 1.

Derek Jeter forced Jason Frasor (2-2) out of the game by a lining a single off his right shin in the 7th, and Abreu followed with a 2 run homer off Justin Speier for a 5-3 lead.

Jeff Karstens (2-1), making his 5th major league start, allowed 3 runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings. Kyle Farnsworth pitched the 9th for his 6th save.

Athletics 7, Indians 3

Bobby Kielty hit his first career grand slam, Kirk Saarloos struck out a career high 11 in 5 innings and Eric Chavez and Nick Swisher also homered at AL West leading Oakland, which stayed 6 1/2 games ahead of the Angels and lowered its magic number to 6.

Kielty, nursing a sore left hand, put the A's ahead 5-2 when he connected off Cliff Lee (12-11) with 2 outs in the 6th inning. Chad Gaudin (2-2) pitched the 6th for the win.

Angels 5, Royals 2

Robb Quinlan and Vladimir Guerrero homered at Kansas City, and rookie Joe Saunders (6-3) struck out 8 in 7 innings, allowing 1 run and 7 hits. Francisco Rodriguez pitched the 9th for his major league leading 43rd save.

Kansas City clinched its 3tf straight last place finish in the AL Central, the first time that's happened in the history of the franchise. Jose De La Rosa (3-3) allowed 4 runs, 4 hits and 4 walks in 6 2-3 innings.

Mariners 9, Rangers 7, 10 innings

Pinch-hitter Adam Jones had a 2 run, 2 out single off C.J. Wilson (2-3) in the 10th after Willie Bloomquist and Ichiro Suzuki hit RBI singles in the 9th against Akinori Otsuka, whose throwing error on a comebacker sparked the rally. Bloomquist had a career high 5 hits.

Jon Huber (2-1) pitched 1 2-3 innings of hitless relief at Texas, and J.J. Putz got 3 outs for his 33rd save.

Orioles 5, Devil Rays 4

Nick Markakis and Jay Gibbons had RBI singles to tie it at 3 before Ramon Hernandez hit an RBI double that chased Jason Hammel (0-4) in a 4 run 5th for visiting Baltimore. Tampa Bay lost its 9th straight, a season high.

Adam Loewen (6-5) allowed 4 runs and 6 hits over 6 innings, and Chris Britton pitched the 9th for his first career save.