<
>

Radke's strong start, Blanco's HR lead Twins

CHICAGO (AP) -- Torii Hunter had a message for the Chicago White
Sox and delivered it with a bone-crushing block at home plate: The
Minnesota Twins came to town to play old-fashioned baseball.

"My instincts took over. I had to do what I had to do to touch
home plate," Hunter said Monday night after he ran over Chicago
catcher Jamie Burke.

Burke headed to a hospital complaining of a sore jaw and having
trouble focusing after the Twins beat the White Sox 6-2 behind
strong pitching from Brad Radke.

Hunter said he was just trying to knock the ball loose on Henry
Blanco's sacrifice fly to shallow right in the eighth.

"I wasn't trying to hurt him. I was just playing the game like
you should play the game," Hunter said. "I'm not a dirty player.
I just go out and have fun and play the game. That's it."

When Hunter came to the on-deck circle in the ninth, some fans
at U.S. Cellular Field gave him an earful and he responded before
manager Ron Gardenhire came out of the dugout to settle him down.

Hunter said one fan went over the line.

"It wasn't grief," Hunter said. "It was life threatening.
Somebody said they were going to take my life. ... I lost it."

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had no problem with Hunter's
aggressive play.

"If my players don't like it, that's a message. You got to play
the game hard. I know if it happened on my side, I'd be high-fiving
my players," Guillen said.

It wasn't completely clear from replays if Hunter could have
scored without running over Burke.

"I know he went out of his way," said Chicago's Paul Konerko,
who hit his 27th homer.

"He went to the left so he probably made up his mind when he
tagged that he was going to do that. Whether that's bad or cheap, I
don't know the unwritten rule."

Told that Burke was going for a checkup after the game, Hunter
said he would attempt to talk to him Tuesday.

"I hate that I'm the bad guy. I'm a good guy," Hunter said.

In the opener of the pivotal three-game series, Minnesota won
for the eighth time in 10 games overall and pushed its lead over
Chicago in the AL Central to 1½ games.

Radke (7-6) allowed three hits in seven innings and retired the
final 16 batters he faced. He did not allow a hit after the second
when he gave up Konerko's homer and a single to Timo Perez.

"It was like a playoff atmosphere and I think this team likes
that," Radke said.

Blanco, who entered the game in an 8-for-49 slump, hit his sixth
homer following Corey Koskie's triple in the fourth and gave the
Twins a 4-1 lead as they solved Mark Buehrle early.

Minnesota collected 10 hits in the first four innings against
Buehrle, who was 3-0 against the Twins this season and had beaten
them six straight times dating to June, 2003. Buehrle entered the
game with a 13-4 career record against Minnesota -- his most wins
versus any opponent.

And Buehrle's performance followed one of the strongest starts
of his career. Five days ago, he took a perfect game into the
seventh inning against Cleveland and finished with a two-hit
shutout while facing the minimum 27 batters.

But the Twins had him timed from the outset.

Shannon Stewart reached on an infield hit, advanced to third on
Lew Ford's single and scored on Justin Morneau's bouncer to third
as the Twins went up 1-0 in the first.

Consecutive two-out singles by Blanco, Cristian Guzman and
Stewart gave the Twins a two-run advantage in the second.

The Twins added two runs in the eighth off Cliff Politte with
Hunter's hard hit leading to the first run and Guzman driving in
the second with a triple.

Chicago pinch-hitter Joe Borchard homered off Juan Rincon in the
eighth.

Buehrle (10-4) gave up four runs on 12 hits in 6 1-3 innings --
his most hits allowed this season.

Game notes
Twins 2B Nick Punto had to leave the game in the bottom of
the first when he broke his right collarbone charging a bunt by
Chicago leadoff hitter Willie Harris. Punto hit the ground hard
when he tried to get to the ball and make a quick flip to first. He
is probably lost for the season. Harris got a single. ... The
announced crowd of 38,362 was the White Sox's seventh sellout of
the season, one more than all of last season. Many headed for cover
when it began to rain in the bottom of the seventh. ... Chicago
still leads the season series 7-4.