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."
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