Reed pitches first 'pain-free' game in a month


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins' bullpen did the job again.

Rick Reed and four relievers combined on a four-hitter as the Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 2-1 Friday night.

Minnesota is a major league best 17-4 since the All-Star break
and leads the Chicago White Sox by 15 games in the AL Central.

The Twins' bullpen combined for six strikeouts in three hitless
innings of relief of Reed (9-5), who gave up four hits and one run
in six-plus innings.

Reed called the outing his first "pain-free'' start since
injuring his thumb in late June.

"The last five or six starts I've been getting by on guts,'' Reed said. "I wasn't able to throw a two-seam fastball or a curveball. I don't know how I did it.''

Reed struck out four and walked one before leaving with two on
and no outs in the seventh inning.

J.C. Romero entered, and Neifi Perez sacrificed. Romero struck
out Brent Mayne, then second baseman Luis Rivas made a diving catch
of Carlos Febles' liner off LaTroy Hawkins.

"Luis' catch was the play of the game,'' Reed said.

Hawkins and Johan Santana combined to strike out the side in the
eighth inning, and Eddie Guardado pitched a hitless ninth for his
33rd save in 36 opportunities.

"A lot of people didn't know about these guys in spring training,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said about his bullpen. "But they've really stepped up and done the job all year.''

Santana, who struck out 13 batters against Toronto on Sunday,
joined the bullpen Friday with Brad Radke returning to the rotation
Saturday. He struck out Carlos Beltran and Raul Ibanez with the
tying run on base in the eighth.

"This is a situation where I can help this team out of the bullpen,'' Santana said. "Tonight I knew my job was to get two hitters out.''

Jeff Suppan (8-10) gave up two runs and eight hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking one. The Royals lost for the 10th time in 11 games.

Suppan pitched out of trouble on several occasions. The Twins
stranded seven runners on base in the first five innings, six in
scoring position.

"The Twins have been solid all year,'' Suppan said. "They've got good power and speed. They have aggressive hitters and patient hitters.''

Jacque Jones led off the game with his 18th home run. It was the
11th time he's led off a game with a homer in his career.

Ibanez answered with a solo homer, his 16th, in the second.

Dustan Mohr led off the bottom of the second inning with a
triple, and A.J. Pierzynski singled him home one out later. Rivas
followed with a single, but Suppan struck out Jones and got Denny
Hocking on a groundout.

The Twins threatened again in the third when David Ortiz singled
and Torii Hunter doubled with one out, but Mohr grounded back to
the mound and Michael Cuddyer grounded out to end the inning.

Game notes
After the game, the Twins optioned C Matthew LeCroy to Triple-A Edmonton to make way for Radke's return. Radke faces Kansas City's Paul Byrd on Saturday. ... Hunter returned to the lineup after missing the past three games with a mild left hip strain. ... Twins 1B Doug Mientkiewicz had back spasms early Friday
and did not start, but he took over at first base in the eighth inning. ... Kansas City 3B Joe Randa's seventh-inning single ended an 0-for-23 slump. ... Rivas' second-inning stolen base was the first allowed by the Royals since July 6. ... The attendance of 23,230 ended a streak of seven Twins home games with more than 25,000 fans. They hadn't done that since 1993. ... Over the past two seasons, Minnesota is 77-45 against fellow AL Central teams, but 74-75 outside the division.