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Jones' homer in 11th allows Twins to edge ChiSox

6/26/2003

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins looked headed for another
loss until their ultra-valuable bullpen got an early call.

After 7 2/3 innings of scoreless relief by his teammates, Jacque Jones completed the comeback with a solo homer off Billy Koch in the 11th inning to give the struggling Twins a 6-5 victory over the
Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.

"We needed a win," said manager Ron Gardenhire, who removed starter Joe Mays in a five-run fourth and then watched Juan Rincon, Johan Santana, LaTroy Hawkins and Eddie Guardado keep the White Sox from scoring while his team rallied from a 5-1 deficit.

"If we let it get any more than that, it was going to be over with," Gardenhire said. "So we made a move a little early for the pitcher's liking."

Jones -- who started the day in a 1-for-14 slump and was batting
.222 in June -- went 3-for-6 with three RBI for the Twins, who had
lost eight of 10 coming in.

Jose Valentin hit a three-run homer for the White Sox, who
missed a chance to take the first two of this three-game series and
trail Kansas City and Minnesota by 5{ games in the AL Central.

Both teams wasted great chances in the final innings.

D'Angelo Jimenez singled off Johan Santana with one out in the
Chicago ninth, and LaTroy Hawkins gave up singles to Frank Thomas
and Magglio Ordonez -- who went 2-for-2 after replacing Brian
Daubach as the designated hitter -- to load the bases.

But Hawkins struck out Carlos Lee and got Valentin on a popup to
end the threat before striking out the side in the 10th.

White Sox reliever Tom Gordon loaded the bases with two outs in
the 10th, but he struck out A.J. Pierzynski on a 3-2 count with a
wicked slider that darted down and off the plate.

"One of the nastiest pitches I've seen in a long time," said
Pierzynski, who took no offense to Gordon's repeated fist pumps on
his way to the dugout.

"Pump your fist all you want in that situation," he said.

These rivals have traded their share of trash talk, brushbacks
and beanballs over the past few seasons, but nobody expressed any
concern about the displays of emotion by Gordon or Jones, who
pumped his fists as he rounded first on his homer.

"That's the way it's supposed to be," Gardenhire said.
"That's part of the game."

Guardado (1-2) pitched the 11th for the victory. Koch (2-4) gave
up the homer to Jones, his 10th, with one out on a 1-0 sinker away
that didn't sink quite enough.

"It's one game," Koch said. "That's the way the ball
bounces."

Mays, once dubbed "Cy Mays" by White Sox manager Jerry Manuel
for his success against Chicago, retired the first nine batters he
faced on 34 pitches before hitting big trouble in the fourth.

Daubach tied the game at 1 with a bases-loaded single, and Lee
gave the White Sox the lead with a fielder's choice grounder to
short that he barely beat out to avoid a double play.

Then on a 3-2 pitch, Valentin -- still batting just .229 this
season -- hit his 10th homer to put Chicago ahead 5-1.

Joe Crede and Armando Rios followed with hits that were just as
hard, both singles, and Mays' night was over just like that.

Mays, in the second season of a four-year, $20 million contract,
gave up six hits, five runs and a walk in 3 1-3 innings without a
strikeout. Though he leads the Twins with eight wins, his ERA
jumped to 5.77.

"I kind of lost my focus in the fourth inning, and that's what
cost me," Mays said after a lengthy conversation with pitching
coach Rick Anderson.

Rincon got the next 10 outs without allowing a run in relief,
giving the Twins a chance to rally.

Torii Hunter, who drove in a run in the first with a sacrifice
fly, reached on a two-base error in the fourth and scored on
Pierzynski's two-out bloop double that bounced over the head of
Willie Harris in center field.

Doug Mientkiewicz tripled in the sixth and scored on Dustan
Mohr's single to pull the Twins within 5-3.

After a single by Luis Rivas with two outs, Damaso Marte --
Chicago's best reliever -- entered and was greeted by Jones with a
double to right-center that scored two and tied the game at 5.

After Rivas safely made it home, Jones jumped up and down at
second and clapped his hands.

Game notes
Mays is 8-2 in his career against the White Sox, including
two wins earlier this season. ... Valentin's homer was his first in
29 games since May 18, also at the Metrodome. ... The Twins held
their third annual African American Heritage Night, and the
Timberwolves' Kevin Garnett threw out the ceremonial first pitch.