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Twins' Hunter upstages Ortiz, Red Sox

Sep 20, 2006 - 2:03 PM BOSTON (Ticker) -- Torii Hunter upstaged David Ortiz and, in the process, officially ended the chances of a division title for the Boston Red Sox.

Ortiz tied a franchise record with his 50th home run of the season, but Hunter belted a three-run shot in the eighth inning to lift the Minnesota Twins to an 8-2 win over the Red Sox.

Boston's loss clinched the American League East Division title for the New York Yankees, who captured their ninth straight division crown despite a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

"It ended the way it was supposed to end," Red Sox starter Curt Schilling said. "(The Yankees) played a lot better than us over the course of a season. We put ourselves in a position to get taken advantage of, and they had the talent to take advantage of us. We played ourselves to where we're at, and that's unfortunate."

Rookie Boof Bonser (6-5) went seven strong innings for the Twins (90-61), who remained one-half game behind the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central Division.

"If I was Detroit, I would be (worried)," Hunter said. "We were 12 games back and now we're playing good ball. They shouldn't worry. They should just go out there and keep playing ball and let whatever happens happen. But we're coming. We're breathing."

Ortiz's 50th homer of the season, a towering shot to right field that tied the franchise record set by Jimmie Foxx in 1938, gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning.

"I guess people in New England are going to remember me for a while," Ortiz said. "To go back through history and see how many great players have been around this ballclub and to be right there with them is a wonderful feeling."

But the Twins, who had runners aboard in every inning but the fifth, finally broke through against the Red Sox bullpen. They battered rookie Craig Hansen for four runs on three hits, with Hunter's three-run blast - his 28th - providing a 4-2 lead.

"He walked (Justin) Morneau and I figured he had to throw a strike somewhere," Hunter said. "Anywhere in the vicinity, I was swinging. I wanted to make something happen. I wasn't even trying to hit a home run. It just happened."

Hansen, Boston's fourth pitcher of the game and its first-round pick in 2005, failed to retire any of the four batters he faced and also threw a wild pitch and issued a walk.

The Twins added another run in the eighth, when pinch runner Lew Ford took third on Jason Tyner's bunt single and scored on Jason Bartlett's grounder.

Minnesota put it out of reach with three more runs in the ninth, with Morneau and Ford sandwiching run-scoring singles around Hunter's RBI groundout.

Making his first start since August 30, Schilling was predictably rusty. The 39-year-old righthander, who missed three starts with a sore right latissimus muscle after going 0-3 in his previous five outings, allowed one runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out three without a walk, throwing 104 pitches.

"Physically, I felt comfortable going in, but my sharpness wasn't what I had hoped for," Schilling said. "Mentally, it was a little harder than it was physically. It was a grind."

Bonser allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings, striking out five. He also did not walk a batter.

"I just tried to go after these guys, get ahead of them and let them put the ball in play," Bonser said. "It's great for me to get in here and be in this pennant race, but for this team, it's huge. We just have to keep winning ballgames and try to get that playoff spot."

Michael Cuddyer added three hits for the Twins, including an RBI single in the first inning.

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