MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Good pitching, a late-inning rally, a loud
crowd -- the Minnesota Twins gave themselves a little postseason
"It felt like a playoff game out there,'' Buehrle said.
With two outs, Michael Restovich singled and Kielty hit
Buehrle's pitch high into right-center field to give the AL Central
champions their fourth win in five games.
With a crowd of 32,072 waving their Homer Hankies, Kielty came
back on the field and tipped his cap.
"That was pretty exciting for me,'' said Kielty, who couldn't
remember doing a curtain call before.
Minnesota begins a best-of-five series Tuesday at Oakland, and
the atmosphere in this game was similar to what the Metrodome will
be like Friday for Game 3 against the A's.
"Stay close, catch 'em at the end,'' said manager Ron
Gardenhire. "Good pitching, runs are going to be at a premium.
That's probably what you're going to see in the playoffs.''
Buehrle (19-12) was trying to become the first White Sox pitcher
to win 20 games since Jack McDowell won 22 in 1993. He gave up 10
hits, three runs and a walk in eight innings, while striking out
"I can only blame myself,'' Buehrle said. "I had a number of
chances to win (20). But 19-12, I'll take that every year.''
The White Sox, after falling behind by 17 games in the division
race, are 22-11 since Aug. 24. Still, they were disappointed their
ace couldn't pull it out.
"This was a real tough loss, personally for him,'' said manager
Jerry Manuel. "He gave it all he had.''
Since they'll be facing Oakland's standout left-handers Mark
Mulder and Barry Zito next week in the playoffs, Buehrle gave the
Twins a good tuneup.
They hit him hard early but left two runners on in each of the
first two innings. Then he found his groove.
Cristian Guzman doubled in the first and barely beat Aaron
Rowand's strong throw from center on a single by Matthew LeCroy.
Torii Hunter doubled, but Doug Mientkiewicz stranded two runners
with an inning-ending groundout.
A one-out double by Cuddyer in the fourth was wiped out when
Jose Valentin made an over-the-shoulder catch of Pierzynski's
blooper and whirled to throw out Cuddyer before he could retreat.
After a one-out walk by LeCroy, Valentin made a diving stop of
Torii Hunter's grounder in the hole and flipped to second baseman
D'Angelo Jimenez to start another double play.
Twins starter Kyle Lohse finished up a strong season by striking
out seven in five innings. Lohse, fifth in the rotation coming out
of spring training, helped keep an injury-depleted staff together
with 31 starts 180 2/3 innings -- second on the team behind veteran
Lohse walked four, and his control troubles -- plus Cuddyer's
error -- cost him in the fifth. Cuddyer dropped Rowand's fly ball on
the run in right-center field, and Jose Valentin and Frank Thomas
drew back-to-back walks with two outs.
Then Ordonez ripped a single up the middle to give the White Sox
a 2-1 lead.
Lohse gave up three hits, and both runs were unearned. His earned-run average
was lowered 4.23.
"There's a lot of room for improvement -- I was a little
inconsistent,'' Lohse said. "If you told me at the beginning of
the year I'd win 13 games, it'd be hard to believe.''
Ordonez extended his career-best RBI total to 135, the
fourth highest in team history. Albert Belle's 152 in 1998 is the
best. Ordonez is second behind Texas' Alex Rodriguez in the AL. ...
Jose Valentin and Javier Valentin are brothers. Javier Valentin,
who replaced Pierzynski at catcher for the Twins in the sixth
inning, played in his first major league game this month since
1999. Minnesota's third-round pick in 1993, Javier Valentin spent
the entire 2000 and 2001 seasons in Triple-A. ... Jones is 0-for-19
in his career against Buehrle.