MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- With Johan Santana and Freddy Garcia in an
old-fashioned pitchers' duel, the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White
Sox put on a pennant-race classic despite the distance between them
in the AL Central.
Jacque Jones ended Garcia's no-hit bid with a home run to lead
off the eighth inning, and Santana pitched the Twins past the White
Sox 1-0 on Tuesday night."When you have a game like that," Santana said, "you know
it's only going to take one mistake."It was Garcia (11-6) who faltered, leaving a 1-2 curveball a
little too high for Jones -- who smacked it over the wall in center
field for his team-leading 18th homer and the Twins' only hit of
the game."I didn't look," Garcia said. "I knew that it was gone."Santana (13-6) gave up three hits and walked one in eight
innings, striking out seven in a battle of perhaps Venezuela's two
best pitchers. Santana, last year's AL Cy Young Award winner,
improved to 6-1 after the All-Star break.Garcia walked two and struck out three in eight innings to
become the first White Sox pitcher to lose a one-hitter since 1983.The first-place White Sox saw the Twins move within 9½ games of
them in the AL Central -- with Cleveland in second, seven games out."Keep playing like that and it'll turn. We're on the right
track, I can tell," said Chicago's Paul Konerko, providing a
positive reflection of his team's eighth loss in nine games. "It's
still in our hands, and there aren't many teams in baseball that
can say making the playoffs is in their hands."Minnesota plays Chicago nine more times this season."I knew, coming into this game, that we needed to fight,"
Santana said. "Tonight, we did a great job from top to bottom."Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 32nd save and extended his
scoreless innings streak to 15, striking out the last two batters
as the crowd of 33,572 roared."Definitely the loudest I've heard it in the Metrodome since
I've been here," said Nathan, in his second season with the Twins.Pablo Ozuna stroked a single off Santana's first pitch and
doubled down the left-field line in the third, but that was it
until Geoff Blum singled with two outs in the seventh. Ozuna
followed with a drive to deep center, but Lew Ford -- named the AL's
Player of the Week the day before -- caught it on the run before he
crashed into the wall.That wasn't the only great defense Santana got. Left fielder
Shannon Stewart made a running catch of Konerko's drive in the
fourth, colliding with the wall and leaving the game with a
strained left shoulder.And then there was Jones, who is expected to miss the next two
games to attend a family funeral.With center fielder Torii Hunter probably out for the rest of
the regular season because of a broken left ankle, Jones is the
only one left in Minnesota's lineup who was a regular on each of
the division-winning teams of the past three years.He's only batting .254, and has had another up-and-down season.
But Jones, who has been bothered by a strained oblique muscle near
his right rib cage, is still one of the Twins' best in the clutch.
He has six game-winning hits this year."When you get on the field everything goes out the door,"
Jones said. "I just have to play. I owe it to these guys and owe
it to myself. None of that stuff matters when you cross the line."Michael Cuddyer reached second to start the sixth when Ozuna
tried to backhand a grounder to third and let it roll under his
glove. He moved to third on a groundout, but Garcia stranded him
there -- finishing the inning when Jermaine Dye jumped to catch Nick
Punto's flyball and hit his left arm hard against the right-field
wall.Dye fell on the warning track, holding his glove up to prove he
made the grab, and rolled around in pain for a bit before leaving
the field.Though they lost, the White Sox seemed just as pleased to have
participated."If you're a baseball fan, that's one of the best ones you'll
ever see," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Garcia lost a road start for the first time since May 9,
against Tampa Bay. He is 16-3 in his last 22 starts away from home.
... Former Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski, now with the White Sox
after he was traded to San Francisco before the 2004 season, was
booed mildly. Before his second at-bat, one fan along the
first-base line yelled, "You're a bum, A.J.!" Then someone
screamed, "We miss you!" seconds later. ... Minnesota's Joe Mauer
had his consecutive walk streak ended at five with a groundout in