Twins 5, White Sox 4
CHICAGO (AP)—Ozzie Guillen gazed across the field and saw the enthusiastic Minnesota Twins all standing on the top of the dugout steps, watching and rooting.
“They showed up to kick our butts this weekend. They were pulling for each other. Those kids are pesky. If we don’t wake up, they will sweep us,” Guillen said after Minnesota rallied for a 5-4 win Friday night.
The Twins got a two-out RBI single from Jason Bartlett in the ninth and took over the AL wild card lead by winning for the eighth time in 11 games.
“I don’t know how to describe it, just a heck of a baseball game,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after his team moved within five games of first-place Detroit in the AL Central.
The game had a wild ending, as well. In the bottom of the ninth after Scott Podsednik singled and moved to second on Joe Nathan’s wild pickoff attempt, Jermaine Dye hit a foul fly down the first base line near the seats.
As Twins first baseman Justin Morneau tried to make the catch, a fan reached over and intefered and the ball was knocked out of Morneau’s glove. But first base umpire Andy Fletcher called Dye out to end the game.
“The fan definitely reached over into fair play and interfered with the fielder’s opportunity to make the catch,” Fletcher said. “He got in his way. I believe he would have made the catch had the fan not have been there.”
Guillen didn’t even argue.
“I wasn’t going to waste my time when half the guy’s body was on the field,” Guillen said. “It was a good call.”
The Twins lead the wild card by a half-game over the White Sox, who fell to third place in the AL Central.
Hunter started the ninth with a single off Mike MacDougal (1-1). Hunter was forced at second and after Jason Tyner hit back to MacDougal sending pinch-runner Lew Ford to second, No. 9 hitter Bartlett singled to center to put the Twins up.
Jesse Crain (3-5) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory and Joe Nathan got three outs for his 27th save in 28 chances.
“I think that guy better leave town because he’s going to get a lot of hate mail,” Hunter said of the fan who got in Morneau’s way. “I couldn’t understand why the fan interfered with the play. You never know, Morneau might not have caught the ball and gave them a second chance.”
Paul Konerko hit a two-run homer in the first and the White Sox had another run cut down at the plate after taking a 3-0 lead in the second. Twins starter Brad Radke was pulled after two inning, but a team spokesman said he wasn’t injured.
Cotts yielded a single to Morneau and then Hunter hit David Riske’s first pitch for a three-run homer to right, his 20th of the season and fifth against the White Sox.
But Pierzynski answered by hitting reliever Pat Neshek’s first pitch for a long homer to right center, his 11th, to tie the game.
Vazquez gave up five hits and was charged with two runs in 5 2-3 innings.
Konerko had gone 65 at-bats without a homer before launching a long drive over the center field fence against Radke after Dye walked in the first.
When Joe Crede and Ross Gload singled to start the second, the White Sox had the makings of a big inning before a great throw from Twins’ left fielder Tyner doused it. Juan Uribe sacrificed after the singles to put runners at second and third with one out.
Radke had given up four hits and three runs when he was replaced by Matt Guerrier to start the bottom of the third. The two innings represented his shortest outing of the season.
The 33-year-old Radke, who is 5-2 since the All-Star game, is pitching this season with a torn labrum and has not had surgery because he will probably retire after the season.
“I could have stayed out there,” Radke, refusing to blame his injury. “It’s the same as it has been. Gardenhire just didn’t want to push it.”
Notes:@ The crowd of 35,931 ended the White Sox’s consecutive sellout streak at 22 games. The team has sold out 42 times this season. … Punto now has eight major league homers. … Chicago played its second straight game without DH Jim Thome, who is sidelined by a sore left hamstring and might not play this weekend.