Twins 9, White Sox 1

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Brad Radke again showed the Twins’ pitching staff what it takes to be the ace.

Radke allowed one run in seven innings to halt a bad string for Minnesota’s starters and Matthew LeCroy hit a two-run homer, leading the Twins over the Chicago White Sox 9-1 Saturday night.

“Only for about 10 years he’s been doing it,” manager Ron Gardenhire said, referring to Radke. “I won’t say we expect it, but we’ve seen it many times.”

Just as he did down the stretch and in the playoffs last season and the year before, Radke came up big when his team needed it most. Twins starters had not recorded a win in their previous six starts, going 0-4 with an 8.16 ERA.

“I know it’s only May, but it’s always good to beat these guys because you know they are going to be there at the end,” said Radke, who admitted putting a little extra pressure on himself to stop the two-game skid. “I felt pretty good out there tonight.”

Justin Morneau went 3-for-3 with his first homer and first two RBIs of the season for Minnesota, which had lost the previous three games against Chicago by a combined 29-5 margin. Michael Cuddyer went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI.

“We just knew we had to come out and have good at-bats and take advantage when we had runners in scoring position,” said LeCroy who has a hit in six straight games, including a go-ahead, pinch-hit grand slam against Toronto.

“We needed one of the starters to come in and step up and that’s what Brad did,” he added.

Jose Valentin had two hits for the White Sox, who had their winning streak snapped at four and fell one game behind the first-place Twins in the AL Central.

“(We) faced one of the best pitchers in the league,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “What Radke brings to the table is real great baseball.”

Radke (4-2) allowed six hits and no walks while striking out five. He improved to 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in his last five starts.

“He didn’t miss too many times, and when he did, he missed way in or way out, not over the plate,” Paul Konerko said.

Minnesota scored three runs in the first inning off Neal Cotts (0-2), who was making his first start since Aug. 28, 2003, at Yankee Stadium. Lew Ford and Cristian Guzman hit consecutive singles to start the rally and both moved up on a wild pitch.

Jacque Jones hit an RBI groundout to score Ford, and LeCroy followed with a two-run shot on an 0-2 hanging curveball. It was LeCroy’s second homer of the season.

The White Sox got their only run off Radke in the second when Joe Crede, who was 3-for-31 (.097) in his previous nine games, hit an RBI double.

But Minnesota regained its three-run lead in the bottom half on Morneau’s 412-foot homer to right field.

Cotts allowed four runs and five hits in 2 1-3 innings.

“I hung a couple pitches and they hit them out, and that’s disappointing,” Cotts said.

The Twins added two runs in the sixth. Torii Hunter hit a one-out double and scored on Cuddyer’s two-out double off Jon Adkins. Morneau followed with an RBI single off Kelly Wunsch to make it 6-1.

Alex Prieto hit a run-scoring groundout in the Twins’ three-run eighth for his first career RBI.

Hunter made a running, leaping catch against the right-field baggie in the seventh inning to rob Paul Konerko of extra bases. Jones made two great plays, one against the wall in foul territory and another against the wall in right field.

Minnesota’s defense was flawless after making nine errors in its previousfour games.


Minnesota placed 2B Luis Rivas on the 15-day disabled list with a pulled groin muscle and recalled OF Michael Restovich from Triple-A Rochester. … Chicago’s No. 5 starters are 0-6 with a 9.73 ERA. … Morneau’s homer was the first by a left-handed batter against Cotts in his career. … In his last start against the Yankees, Cotts allowed four runs, three hits and five walks in one-third of an inning. … Chicago slugger Frank Thomas, who sat out Friday with an upset stomach, was 1-for-4 and is 8-for-13 with two doubles a home run,two walks and eight RBIs in his last three games.

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