Hermanson blows third save in 34 chances

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Chicago White Sox have the best record in the AL because of games like this.

Timo Perez hit a go-ahead single in the 10th inning and the White Sox defeated the Minnesota Twins 2-1 on Thursday.

Geoff Blum doubled off Jesse Crain (9-3) leading off the 10th, and pinch-hitter Pablo Ozuna bunted to Crain. The pitcher's throw beat Blum to third base, but Luis Rodriguez missed the tag on the sacrifice.

Perez followed with his single to left-center.

"That's why they've got their record, because they take advantage of other teams' mistakes," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Closer Dustin Hermanson (1-2) blew just his third save in 34 chances but earned the victory. Bobby Jenks worked the 10th for his first major-league save.

Chicago won the final two games of the three-game series and took an 11½-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central. The Twins lost for the third time in 11 games and dropped 3½ games behind the Yankees and A's in the AL wild-card race.

Jon Garland pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings and was in position to tie the Angels' Bartolo Colon for the AL lead in wins at 17 before the Twins rallied in the ninth.

"The team came away with the win and took the series -- what more can you ask for?" said Garland, who allowed six hits and struck out five.

Chicago, attempting to dethrone three-time defending AL Central champion Minnesota, received its third straight strong starts. Freddy Garcia pitched a one-hitter in a losing effort Tuesday, and Mark Buehrle allowed one run in eight innings to win Wednesday.

"We're winning because our starting pitching has been great and our bullpen has done a good job," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "To win the series was really important to us."

Chicago improved to 27-15 in one-run games this season, while Minnesota fell to 25-25.

Twins starter Carlos Silva gave up one run and six hits in seven innings. In his last nine starts, Silva has a 2.59 ERA but is only 1-3.

Gardenhire, feeling lightheaded and feverish, left the dugout in the sixth inning to lie down in his office -- and put hitting coach Scott Ullger in charge.

"I don't know if it was our offense or the flu," said Gardenhire, still red-faced after the game.

Team doctors checked him out and didn't find anything other than a higher-than-usual heart rate.

With the White Sox leading 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth, reliever Damaso Marte walked Justin Morneau with one out. Hermanson relieved and Michael Ryan hit a two-out line drive that deflected off first baseman Paul Konerko's glove and rolled down the right field line for an RBI double.

Hermanson then struck out Michael Cuddyer, who had homered off the closer in the ninth inning last week in a game the Twins won in extra innings. Cuddyer looked at three straight strikes Thursday.

Chicago went ahead on Konerko's RBI single in the third.

Minnesota got three straight two-out singles in the second, but Ryan was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Perez trying to score from second on Terry Tiffee's hit. Had Ryan not hesitated, he could have scored easily.

"That's just playing young," Gardenhire said.

Game notes
Gardenhire said that a decision on struggling right-hander Joe Mays'
status in the rotation will not be made until Sunday, but he indicated the team was likely going to remove him. Mays' next scheduled start is Monday, three days before teams can expand their rosters for the final month of the season, but the Twins also could
bring up top prospect Scott Baker to replace Mays before that. ... Minnesota left fielder Shannon Stewart, who left Tuesday's game with a strained left shoulder, will not be placed on the DL but will probably miss at least a few more days. ... Everett went 2-for-5 and is batting .378 (17-for-45) against the Twins this season.