Twins match power with power, down Sox

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2006

CHICAGO (AP) &045; The middle of the lineup supplied the power. The bottom part came through with six hits, and the starting pitcher was effective, too.

Not that this was unusual for the Minnesota Twins.

&8220;That’s what we’ve been able to do this whole year,&8221; Michael Cuddyer said after a 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.

Joe Mauer hit a three-run homer, and Cuddyer and Justin Morneau also connected to lead the surging Twins past slumping Chicago.

Brad Radke pitched six solid innings for Minnesota, which pulled within two games of the second-place White Sox in the AL Central with its 32nd win in 40 games. Jason Tyner and Jason Bartlett, the bottom two batters in the Twins’ lineup, had three hits apiece.

Tyner also made two nice catches in center field.

He sprinted back, leaped and banged into the wall to rob Joe Crede of an extra-base hit in the second. And he raced to snag Jim Thome’s drive to deep right-center with a runner on third to end the fifth.

Paul Konerko homered in the fourth and Juan Uribe connected in the fifth to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead. But Chicago lost for the 10th time in 13 games and fell 7 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit.

Brian Anderson hit a two-run shot in the ninth for the White Sox, who are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees in the wild-card race.

&8220;Everybody is catching up and gaining ground on you, but there’s still two full months to go,&8221; Konerko said.

Cuddyer and Morneau hit consecutive homers off Javier Vazquez (9-6) in the sixth to give the Twins a 3-2 lead. Mauer went deep against Neal Cotts in the seventh &045; the first homer of his career off a left-hander.

Radke (9-7) allowed two runs and seven hits. He is 5-0 in nine starts since losing to Oakland on June 3.

&8220;It just happens,&8221; Radke said. &8220;We just ran into a stretch where we’re playing well. We’re playing well at home. It’s nice to get a few wins on the road.&8221;

Vazquez took a shutout into the sixth, but things again fell apart quickly for him.

Nick Punto led off with a single to extend his career-high hitting streak to 16 games. With one out, Cuddyer hit a two-run shot for his 13th homer. Morneau put the Twins ahead with his 26th &045; a shot that just cleared the wall in right.

It was the third time the Twins hit back-to-back homers this season, and Cuddyer’s shot was Minnesota’s first since Rondell White went deep against Tampa Bay on July 18 &045; a span of 202 plate appearances.

The sellout crowd booed Vazquez on his way to the dugout and let him hear it again in the seventh, after Bartlett’s double put runners on second and third with none out.

Neal Cotts relieved and, with one out, Punto sent a grounder to shortstop. Juan Uribe fired home to cut down Tyner, who protested the call by yelling and waving his arms. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out of the dugout and argued vehemently with plate umpire Laz Diaz.

But instead of letting that play slow them down, the Twins quickly took control.

The next batter, Mauer, padded the lead with his eighth homer. He added a sacrifice fly in the ninth to make it 7-2.

&8220;I just love arguing,&8221; a smiling Gardenhire said. &8220;The big thing there is it didn’t go our way at home plate. I tried to keep my argument to a minimum, told him, ‘I think you missed it,’ and (wanted to) get back in because I thought we had momentum going.&8221;

The Twins have had momentum for 40 games, actually. And the White Sox can’t find it.

They beat Texas on Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak and grabbed a 2-0 lead in this one. But the game soon took a turn.

After going 1-for-14 in his previous four games, Konerko drove a 1-1 pitch over the center-field wall for his 25th homer. Uribe led off the fifth with his 13th homer.

Vazquez kept Minnesota off balance early with his cutter and changeup before falling apart. It’s a perplexing trend.

&8220;What’s frustrating is that I feel good, and I feel like I’m making some good pitches and nothing is happening,&8221; he said.