White Sox Pitcher Garcia Nearly Perfect

Thursday, September 14th 2006, 6:22 am
By: News On 6

A pair of AL races tilted a bit Wednesday as a pair of aces went in different directions. Freddy Garcia took a perfect game bid into the 8th inning before Adam Kennedy singled with 2 outs. The Chicago White Sox coasted, beating the Los Angeles Angels 9-0.

``I knew I had a no-hitter going, but I was trying not to think about it and keep making my pitches,'' Garcia said.

Francisco Liriano's highly anticipated return to the Minnesota rotation came to a sudden halt when he walked off the mound in the 3rd inning because of elbow trouble. A strong Rookie of the Year candidate, the All-Star lefty is done for the season, manager Ron Gardenhire said.

``The last 2 pitches I threw, I felt a pop and it really hurts,'' Liriano said. ``This was disappointing. I just have to wait and see.''

The Twins lost to Oakland 1-0, cutting their wild-card lead to 1 1/2 games over the White Sox.

AL Central leading Detroit lost again, 11-3 to Texas, and remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Minnesota. Chicago closed to 3 games behind.

In other AL games, it was: New York 8, Tampa Bay 4; Baltimore 4, Boston 0; Toronto 10, Seattle 0; and Kansas City 6, Cleveland 2.

Liriano was 12-3 with a 2.19 ERA before leaving a start against Detroit on August 8 with a strained ligament in his arm.

Despite a shaky rotation, the Twins tried to be especially careful with his return. When he showed no signs of problems during a rehabilitation start for AAA Rochester last Saturday, they thought he was ready.

Liriano got through the first 2 innings against the A's in quick order. But after giving up a bloop single to Nick Swisher to start the 3rd, Liriano threw ball 1 to Bobby Kielty and that was it.

Liriano slumped off the mound, and trainers and manager Ron Gardenhire rushed out of the dugout. Liriano slowly walked off and fans at the Metrodome gave him a standing ovation.

``Obviously he won't be pitching again,'' Gardenhire said. ``Something is in there bothering and continuing to stop him. ... Obviously when he gets in a game and puts a little extra torque in there, something is not right. We have to make sure we stop it and do what we have to do.''

Liriano had an MRI exam after the game, and thoughts immediately turned to Tommy John surgery, a ligament replacement procedure that typically keeps pitchers out for more than a year.

``I don't even want to think about that,'' Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said.

Dan Haren (14-11) pitched 8 shutout innings and Huston Street closed for his 32nd save. Matt Garza (1-5) pitched well in emergency relief.

At Anaheim, California, Garcia retired the first 23 batters before Kennedy cleanly lined the 100th pitch to center field on a 3-2 count.

Garcia came close to the first perfect game in the majors since Randy Johnson did it for Arizona at Atlanta on May 18, 2004. There have been only 14 regular season perfect games in the majors since 1900.

Garcia (14-9) struck out 3 and walked none in 8 innings. Neal Cotts pitched a perfect 9th to complete the 1 hitter.

A week earlier, Florida Marlins rookie Anibal Sanchez ended a major league record drought of 2 1/2 years between no hitters. Garcia almost topped that.

``I've been facing those guys for a long time, so I know they're aggressive and they like to swing the bat. Kennedy hit a good pitch, so there was nothing I could do about it. But who doesn't want to throw a no-hitter?''

Jermaine Dye chased rookie Joe Saunders (5-3) with a bases-loaded, 2 run double in the 4th inning.

Rangers 11, Tigers 3

Gary Matthews Jr. hit for the cycle, in order, too, and Texas sent host Detroit to its 10th loss in 15 games.

Matthews led off the game with a single, doubled in the 2nd inning and hit a triple in the 4th. The All-Star center fielder homered in the 6th and joined Mark Teixeira (2004) and Oddibe McDowell (1985) as the only Texas players to achieve the cycle.

Carlos Lee hit 2 solo home runs as Texas gave Kevin Millwood (15-10) plenty of run support.

Justin Verlander (16-8) lasted only 4 1-3 innings, his shortest outing since April 13 when he went 2 2-3 innings against the White Sox.

Yankees 8, Devil Rays 4

At Yankee Stadium, Robinson Cano drove in 5 runs and Alex Rodriguez hit a long homer for New York. The AL East leaders won their 5th in a row and cut their magic number to 7.

Derek Jeter stretched his hitting streak to 22 games, the longest by a Yankees player since current batting coach Don Mattingly had a 24 gamer in 1986.

Brian Bruney (1-1) pitched 2 scoreless innings for his first win with the Yankees. Jason Hammel (0-3) took the loss for Tampa Bay.

Orioles 4, Red Sox 0

At Baltimore, Erik Bedard pitched 7 innings of 2 hit ball and the Orioles dampened the return of Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

The Orioles are 2-12 against Boston this season, with their other win coming in May when Bedard (14-9) beat Wakefield (7-9).

Wakefield was activated from the disabled list before the game. He had been sidelined nearly two months because of a stress fracture in his rib cage.

Before the game, the Orioles said manager Sam Perlozzo would return in 2007. This was his first full year, and Baltimore is finishing its 9th straight losing season.

Blue Jays 10, Mariners 0

Gregg Zaun hit a grand slam during a 9 run 4th inning and also had a solo home run to lead visiting Toronto.

John Hattig, the first major leaguer from Guam, hit a 3 run double for his first career RBIs.

A.J. Burnett (8-7) struck out a season-high 11 in 8 innings. Cha Seung Baek (3-1) was chased in during the Blue Jays' big inning.

Royals 6, Indians 2

Emil Brown homered and Kansas City completed its first road sweep in more than three years.

Before taking 2 in Cleveland, the Royals had gone 86 consecutive road series without a sweep. That was the 3rd longest streak in history, Washington went 100 series from 1901-05 and Montreal went 88 from 1995-98.

Jorge De La Rosa (3-2) won in his first start in 8 days. Jake Westbrook (12-10) took the loss.