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Koskie homers; Twins lead Central by five

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins needed the win because of
the standings. Kyle Lohse needed it for his confidence.

Lohse pitched three-hit ball for seven stellar innings, Corey
Koskie homered and Minnesota beat the Cleveland Indians 5-1 Friday
night.

Cleveland, which pulled within a game of the first-place Twins
last Saturday, dropped five back in the AL Central following its
fifth straight loss. The Twins have won four of five during that
span.

Lohse (6-10) walked one and struck out four against the
second-highest scoring team in the majors. He has struggled for
most of the year, particularly against the Indians -- he entered 0-3
with a 10.20 ERA against them this season.

"It's been a crazy year. At times I feel like I'm throwing the
ball good, but with bad results," Lohse said.

Lohse made the game's key play in the fifth when he caught
Ronnie Belliard off second base on an attempted double steal and
tagged him for the second out of the inning.

The right-hander retired his next seven hitters before
departing.

"The key with Kyle is just trying to get his confidence back,"
Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "I told him, 'Forget
about what happened the first four months of the year.' If he can
have a good last month and a half, he'll forget about it."

Lohse was roughed up for seven runs in five innings last
Saturday in Cleveland, when the Indians pulled within a game of the
Twins.

The next day, Koskie's clutch homer gave Minnesota a 10-inning
victory to keep them ahead in the standings.

"When we played them at home, we were pretty high,"
Cleveland's Omar Vizquel said. "Everybody was swinging the bat
well. Now we're hitting our lows. We're having trouble getting on
base, and we're not hitting the ball real well."

Koskie's homer last Sunday sent him on a tear -- he's 10-for-19
since. He hit a 422-foot shot in the sixth inning that bounced off
a railing in the upper deck, putting the Twins up 3-1. It was
Koskie's 19th homer of the season.

The Twins added two insurance runs in the seventh when Lew Ford
singled, stole second and scored on Justin Morneau's bloop double
that bounced off right fielder Jody Gerut's glove. Jose Offerman's
single scored Morneau.

Jake Westbrook (11-6) gave up eight hits and five runs in 6 2-3
innings, losing for the first time since July 15.

Westbrook was uncharacteristically wild in the early innings,
walking three and throwing a wild pitch. But he allowed only one
run, when Offerman's RBI groundout scored Jacque Jones in the
first.

"It was pretty frustrating," Westbrook said. "I made some
good pitches, but I was a little erratic in the first."

Ben Broussard tied the score with his 11th homer of the season
in the fourth inning. But that was Cleveland's final hit of the
game.

Juan Rincon and J.C. Romero each pitched a scoreless inning to
finish it.

Minnesota's Torii Hunter, who strained his neck when he slammed
into the center-field fence trying to catch a fly ball Thursday,
sat out. He was in the dugout in street clothes and the Twins were
hopeful he might be able to play Saturday.

Jones' RBI single in the fifth scored Michael Cuddyer to put the
Twins ahead to stay. Jones tied his career high by hitting safely
in his 11th straight game.

Game notes
Before the game, Twins players gave Koskie a commemorative
"Chair Crusher" bat. Koskie was mired in a slump when he took out
his frustrations on a chair in the locker room in Cleveland during
the game last Sunday, before hitting his homer. ... Westbrook tied
his season high by issuing four walks. ... Reliever Fernando
Cabrera pitched a scoreless eighth inning in his major league debut
for Cleveland.