Series: Game 2 of 3

Minnesota leads 2-0 (as of 9/17)

Game 1: Tuesday, September 16
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Game 2: Wednesday, September 17
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Game 3: Thursday, September 18
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White Sox 2

(80-71, 32-44 away)

Twins 4

(83-69, 42-33 home)

    8:05 PM ET, September 17, 2003

    Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

    123456789 R H E
    CWS 000000200 2 6 0
    MIN 00301000 - 4 6 0

    W: K. Rogers (12-8)

    L: J. Garland (11-12)

    S: E. Guardado (37)

    Twins have chance to sweep White Sox

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Sitting in the bullpen before Minnesota's game against Chicago, pitching coach Rick Anderson had a good feeling about Twins starter Kenny Rogers.

    "I said, 'You know what? Kenny's going to turn up a good one tonight. I just feel it," Anderson said.

    He was right.

    Rogers (12-8) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings and Michael Ryan homered to help the Twins beat Chicago 4-2 on Wednesday night and close in on a three-game sweep of their AL Central rivals.

    The win put Minnesota 2½ games ahead of Chicago, which will try to avoid the sweep Thursday night at the Metrodome.

    "We're finally playing like we're capable of," Rogers said.

    Regardless of Thursday's outcome, the Twins appear to have the edge over the White Sox in the race for the division crown. Chicago closes out the regular season with two series against third-place Kansas City and one against the New York Yankees, while the Twins face Cleveland and have two series against Detroit, which lost its 113th game Wednesday night.

    Twins manager Ron Gardenhire cautioned against getting too optimistic based on the schedule.

    "When you've got this many games, anything can happen," he said.

    The defending division champs have the best record in the majors since the All-Star break at 39-20.

    Rogers was acquired before the season to fill the spot in the rotation vacated by the injured Eric Milton give Minnesota a veteran presence for big games -- such as this one. He struck out three and walked none in his first win since Aug. 21.

    "You couldn't ask for more than a guy like Kenny," Anderson said.

    Eddie Guardado pitched the ninth for his 37th save in 40 chances.

    Luis Rivas went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and scored two runs for the Twins, who won their fourth straight over the White Sox in front 40,304 screaming Homer Hankey-waving fans.

    "Tonight, there was an energy and electricity in the air you could feel every pitch, every time around," Rogers said. "It was great and it was loud."

    Chicago starter Jon Garland (11-12) lasted just 4 2/3 innings. He allowed four earned runs, six hits and walked a season-high five.

    Garland would have pitched Tuesday night, but manager Jerry Manuel flip-flopped Garland and Esteban Loaiza in the hopes that Loaiza, a 19-game winner, would set the tone for the series. But Loaiza was wild while Twins starter Brad Radke turned in a solid performance.

    That left a week between starts for Garland, and it showed.

    "I couldn't make a pitch," Garland said.

    "My mechanics, the way the ball was coming out of my hand, were bad."

    Trying to even the series at 1-1, Garland kept his pitch count low early thanks to some good fielding by his teammates.

    But Ryan got to Garland in the third, sending his third pitch 416 feet into the folded seats above the right-field wall.

    Cristian Guzman followed with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and went to third on Shannon Stewart's groundout. He scored on Rivas' infield single, and Rivas scored on Doug Mientkiewicz's double to make it 3-0.

    The Twins added another run in the fourth with two outs when Jacque Jones hit an RBI single. That knocked Garland out of the game, and Kelly Wunsch came in. Wunsch walked Corey Koskie to load the bases for Torii Hunter, and the White Sox replaced Wunsch with Scott Sullivan.

    Hunter then flied out to center to end the threat.

    "It's frustrating," Garland said. "I felt good coming into the game, but I pretty much felt lost tonight."

    J.C. Romero relieved in the seventh after Rogers allowed Joe Crede's two-run homer which hit the foul pole and cut the Twins' lead to 4-2 with one out.

    Romero got the Twins out of the inning and LaTroy Hawkins worked a 1-2-3 eighth.

    "Mathematically, we're still in it," Manuel said. "We have a chance -- it's slim."

    Game notes

    Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said third-base coach Al Newman is recovering from a brain hemorrhage he suffered last week. "He's feeling good," Gardenhire said before the game. ... Koskie made an impressive out in the sixth, snaring Magglio Ordonez's hard liner down the left-field line to bring the crowd to its feet. ... The White Sox haven't been this far out of first since Aug. 18. ... Chicago is 7-5 in its last 12. ... Crede hit Chicago's 210th homer this season -- the fourth-highest total in the AL. ... The attendance was the Twins' largest since they drew 48,617 on opening day.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press