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Twins win fifth straight, sink A's with four-run eighth

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Justin Morneau came through in the clutch
again Tuesday night.

Alan Schwarz and Gary Gillette discuss the Twins' chase of the Tigers and Justin Morneau's MVP candidacy. The guys also take a look at the Mets' struggles against rookie left-handed pitchers.

To listen to the podcast, click here

Morneau's two-run double highlighted a four-run eighth inning
and the Minnesota Twins rallied for a 7-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

"I've been in that situation enough times that you learn to
relax and do what you need to do and block everything else out,"
said Morneau, who was showered with chants of "MVP" after his big
hit.

"Yeah, it was pretty cool with all the fans chanting," Morneau
said. "But, the more important thing is the turnaround the team's
had."

Morneau and Jason Tyner each went 3-for-4 with two RBI for
Minnesota, which won its fifth straight and remained 1½ games
behind Detroit in the American League Central. The Twins began the
day with a 1½ game lead over Chicago in the wild-card race.

Morneau now has 120 RBI, moving him into fifth place behind
Kirby Puckett (121) on the Twins all-time single-season list. He is
batting .422 in September with five doubles, a triple, a homer, 10
RBI and 11 runs.

"He's an MVP candidate, absolutely," manager Ron Gardenhire
said. "We wouldn't be here without him, that's for sure, and he's
worked his tail off."

With the Twins trailing 5-3 Nick Punto led off the eighth with a
single off Joe Kennedy (4-1). Joe Mauer walked and Michael Cuddyer
hit a ground-rule double to make it 5-4, and Morneau followed with
a double to deep center. Morneau later scored on a wild pitch.

"We just pecked away and pecked away and it was one of those
things where you get up there and everyone's pulling for each
other," Morneau said.

Dennys Reyes (5-0) pitched the eighth and Joe Nathan got the
last three outs for his 32nd save in 34 chances as the Twins got
their 44th come-from-behind win this season.

Eric Chavez homered and drove in three runs for Oakland, which
entered the game with a 5½ game lead over the Angels in the
American League West.

"The starting pitching gave us enough, and we scored enough
runs, but the bullpen didn't get it done," manager Ken Macha said.

With the score tied 3-all, Dan Johnson led off the fifth with a
412-foot homer off reliever Willie Eyre to give Oakland the lead.
The As made it 5-3 on Marco Scutaros RBI single in the sixth, but
the lead was gone in the eighth.

"Any loss is tough at this point," Johnson said. "They make
you play nine innings."

"We had that game won, bottom line," Jay Payton said. "We had
enough runs to win but let it get away."

Oakland went right after spot starter Matt Guerrier with
consecutive hits by Jason Kendall and Mark Ellis to open the game.
Two outs later, Chavez hit a two-run triple.

The Twins came back with two runs in the second despite a double
play and two baserunning mistakes. Morneau doubled and Torii Hunter
singled to start the inning. Rondell White then laced a shot to
left that Nick Swisher caught and threw on a line to the plate to
double up Morneau trying to tag and score.

Hunter was picked off before the next pitch but reached second
base safely before scoring on Tyner's two-out single. Luis Castillo
had an RBI single to make it 2-2. However, Castillo got caught in a
rundown and tagged out before the next pitch.

Chavez hit a solo homer, his 19th, off Guerrier in the fourth to
make it 3-2.

The Twins came back again in the bottom of the inning. With two
outs, White doubled and scored on Tyner's opposite-field single off
Saarloos.

Game notes
RHP Brad Radke, out with a stress fracture in his pitching
shoulder, threw before the game for the first time in two weeks. He
said the session was pain-free and better than expected. ... The
Twins used a season-high six pitchers in the game, the fifth time
that has happened this year. ... Frank Thomas went 0-for-4 to snap
a string of six straight games with a homer. It was a franchise
record and a personal best for Thomas. ... Kennedy gave up a run
for the first time since May 3, a span of 14 appearances and 16 1/3
scoreless innings. He lost for the first time since Sept. 27, 2005.
... Nick Swisher picked up his fifth outfield assist this season
and second this week.