Radke rolls as Twins creep closer to title


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins are getting closer, as is
Brad Radke.

Backed by a six-run second inning, Radke and the Twins beat the
Detroit Tigers 8-2 Wednesday and lowered their magic number for
clinching the AL Central to three.

"His ball was jumpin','' manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's
a good sign.''

Continuing his comeback from a pulled groin that sidelined him
for two months, Radke allowed only three hits and won for the
fourth time in five starts -- needing only 79 pitches to get through
seven innings. In his last two outings, Radke (8-4) has given up
one run and nine hits in 16 innings.

"The last couple starts have been pretty good,'' Radke said.

Cristian Guzman had a homer and three RBI and Torii Hunter hit
a three-run double to highlight the second inning against former
teammate Mark Redman.

George Lombard and Carlos Pena each homered for Detroit, which
has lost 12 of 14.

The Twins, improving to 41-19 against their division, begin a
four-game series Thursday at Cleveland, which clinched the Central
last year by beating the Twins at Jacobs Field.

"It'd be nice to get it done there,'' Radke said. "They've
given it to us the last couple years.''

The start of the game, the first of 16 played in the majors this
Sept. 11, was delayed 20 minutes for a ceremony honoring victims of
the terrorist attacks and local police, firefighters and emergency

Patriotic songs were played on the organ between innings,
replacing commercials, and most fans wore red, white and blue.

"Singing the national anthem before the game means more to me
than it ever did,'' said Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, a
member of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 2000 Sydney

The Twins and Tigers were set to play in Detroit last Sept. 11,
and they met at the Metrodome a week later when the major leagues
resumed play after the attacks.

Radke was the winning pitcher in that game, taking a no-hit bid
into the eighth inning. On Wednesday, with an 8-0 lead after two
innings, he was just as strong. It took Detroit eight batters took
get a ball out of the infield, and Lombard's leadoff single in the
first was the Tigers' first hit.

Redman, who won 12 games as a rookie on a last-place Twins team
in 2000, has pitched well in a pressure-free season with the
struggling Tigers -- who have the AL's second-worst record. But his
ERA jumped from 3.89 to 4.21 with an awful outing in which he threw
only 31 of 63 pitches for strikes.

After missing most of last season with a shoulder injury, Redman
leads the staff with 203 innings. But he's got a dead arm, and the
Tigers will decide this week whether to shut him down.

"I want to make sure he's healthy,'' Detroit manager Luis
Pujols said, "and that all those innings aren't getting to him.''

Would he mind ending his season early?

"If it's going to save me from injuring myself, then yes,''
Redman said. "But I have to talk it over first. I don't want to
just give up. I never quit.''

Jacque Jones drew a rare walk to lead off the game before
Guzman's homer made it 2-0. The damage could have been greater, but
Mientkiewicz grounded into a double play with runners on first and
third to end the inning.

Then the Twins sent 10 batters to the plate in the second.
Guzman hit an RBI single, Corey Koskie walked to load the bases and
LeCroy walked to force in a run. Then Hunter drove everybody in
with a double to the wall in right-center that gave him 91 RBI,
one shy of his career high.

There was a bright spot for Detroit. Knuckleballer Steve Sparks,
recently removed from the rotation after 28 starts, relieved Redman
and gave up an RBI single to Mientkiewicz. That was the only hit
Sparks allowed in 4 1-3 scoreless innings.

Game notes
Bobby Higginson, who went 0-for-3, was ejected by plate
umpire Mike Winters. Higginson chucked his helmet and started
yelling at Winters after grounding out to end the Tigers' sixth.
Manager Luis Pujols said that Winters told Higginson he was going
to fine him $100 for throwing the helmet, which incited Higginson.
... Redman, a first-round draft pick of the Twins out of
Oklahoma, was traded to the Tigers for reliever Todd Jones last
July. ... Minnesota, which matched last year's victory total with
85, is an AL best 49-26 at home. ... Radke is 12-4 against Detroit
in his career, the most against any team he's faced.