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White Sox win third straight, gain game in Central

CHICAGO (AP) -- Standing on the field, Mark Buehrle and Paul
Konerko heard the crowd roar and immediately knew they got help in
a game far away.

After learning that Kansas City had rallied to beat Cleveland,
Buehrle and Konerko took care of their own work Sunday.

Buehrle pitched a four-hitter and Konerko homered as the Chicago
White Sox defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-1 to push their AL Central
lead back to 2½ games with a week left.

"There are good vibes right now. We've kind of turned it around
a little bit," Konerko said. "We know it's in the driver's seat
and it's there for the taking as long as we just do our job. We
don't have to really look at the scoreboard, but it's always nice
if you get some help. But we know we can do it on our own, as
well."

Ahead in the AL Central by 15 games on Aug. 1, the White Sox
reduced their magic number to five -- thanks to their victory and
the Royals' ninth-inning win over second-place Cleveland.

In the top of the third, as the Royals' 5-4 victory over the
Indians was posted on the scoreboard, the crowd broke into a loud
ovation.

"When they started cheering I kind of knew what it was for,"
Buehrle said.

Buehrle got his own cheers when he retired Matthew LeCroy in the
ninth for the final out. His performance followed three strong
starting efforts by Brandon McCarthy (a no-decision in a loss),
Jose Contreras and Freddy Garcia as the White Sox ran their winning
streak to three games.

"When you are in second place, it's a different way. When you
are in first, you can take care of yourself before somebody else
does it," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen. "Once the reaction went
down, you saw the three runs come up right away. It was a great
feeling."

Before a spirited crowd of 30,402 in their last regular-season
home game -- both the crosstown Cubs and Bears were home on the same
day -- the White Sox waited out a rain delay to get their 94th
victory.

Buehrle (16-8) is just 6-5 since the All-Star break, but he
retired his first nine batters before Jason Tyner singled leading
off the fourth. The left-hander struck out six and walked none.

Pumping his fist as he rounded first, Konerko gave the White Sox
a 4-0 lead with a two-run shot in the third inning, his 38th homer
and first since Sept 9. It followed an RBI triple by Aaron Rowand
and came shortly after the Sox learned of Cleveland's tough loss.

Now the White Sox have seven games to play -- four in Detroit and
then a three-game showdown at Jacobs Field. With a double-digit
lead so late, Chicago never figured to be in this position with a
week remaining, having to win every game. But the Indians have won
17 of 20 to keep the pressure on. Chicago had lost 10 of 14 before
starting this modest three-game winning streak and is now 25-26
since Aug. 1.

"There's no question there's disappointment that it's gotten to
the point it's got to," Konerko said.

"But I think we've done a pretty good job in the last few days
of realizing, OK you know, it is a race. Let's not try and be in
denial about it. This is a race, it's tightened up so now let's
play ball. ... I wish we could've clinched earlier, I wish we
could've clinched on this homestand, for the fans and all. But we
just didn't do it."

The Twins got to Buehrle for a run in the fifth on Lew Ford's
single, a double by Terry Tiffee and an RBI grounder from Luis
Rivas.

Joe Crede delivered a two-out RBI single in the second after
Jermaine Dye singled and stole second against Francisco Liriano
(0-2).

"We won one game here. We didn't quit, we didn't lay down,"
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We just didn't play great
baseball here. The guys are trying. You're facing a team that's
hungry."

Liriano went six innings, allowing five hits and four runs with
three walks and eight strikeouts.

Game notes
The start was delayed 69 minutes by rain. ... Buehrle is
15-9 in his career against the Twins, including 2-2 this season.
The 15 victories are his most against any opponent. He has three
complete games this season -- his last came on June 17 -- and 18 in
his career. ... The Twins have grounded into a double play in 16
straight games. ... The White Sox drew 2,343,833, the
fourth-largest season attendance in franchise history and the
biggest since 1993. ... Tyner has an 11-game hitting streak. ...
Chicago took the season series 11-7, its first winning season
against the Twins since 2000.