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Garland, White Sox continue to pester Twins

Sep 30, 2006 - 7:12 PM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Jon Garland and the Chicago White Sox may be eliminated from the postseason, but they still have a say in who will win the American League Central Division.

Garland threw 8 1/3 strong innings and Tadahito Iguchi homered and drove in three runs as the White Sox captured a 6-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins in the second game of their season-ending three-game series.

Beating the Twins for the third straight time dating to August, Chicago dropped Minnesota (95-66) one-half game behind Detroit (95-65) in the race for the AL Central crown.

"I'm satisfied because we beat them and my team won," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I'm not wishing anybody anything bad, especially that team. I admire (Twins manager Ron Gardenhire) as a person, as a manager. We're just trying to win these three games."

The Tigers, who have lost their last three games, continue their home series with Kansas City later Saturday. Holding the tiebreaker over Minnesota, Detroit can clinch its first division since 1987 with a win.

One of the hottest pitchers in the major leagues since the All-Star break, Garland (18-7) turned around a personal three-game losing streak to end the season on a high note.

The righthander carried a shutout into the ninth before tiring. He gave up three runs - two earned - and six hits as he tied his career high in wins set last season.

"I'm just throwing better pitches," Garland said. "I'm just going out there giving my team a chance to win, and things are working out. I'm not going out there being dominant, I'm just going out there and hitting my spots and trying to do the best I can."

In his final 15 starts, Garland was 10-4 with a 3.60 ERA.

"The guy has 18 wins, he's one behind Johan Santana," said Twins center fielder Torii Hunter, who finished 1-for-4. "That tells you a lot about Jon Garland. He's one of the best righthanded pitchers out there. He's nasty."

Despite a lineup that lacked many of their big bats as Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye were given the day off, the White Sox had very little trouble with Twins rookie Matt Garza (3-6).

Garza was coming off two straight wins, but his final start before the postseason was a clunker. The righthander was roughed up for four runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 frames.

"I just had a tough day, didn't stay behind my pitches," Garza said. "I was just falling off here and there. I just didn't have it today."

"He just didn't make pitches," Gardenhire said. "The fastball, he was jerking it a lot. They were on him pretty good. He's a young pitcher and has a lot to learn still."

Iguchi, who had three hits, highlighted a four-run third with a two-run single and homered off Matt Guerrier in the seventh for a 6-0 advantage.

Rob Mackowiak added two doubles, scored twice and drove in a run, collecting his fourth multi-hit game this season against Minnesota.

"You just go out and play the season out," Mackowiak said. "You play hard. It really doesn't matter to us if we win or lose now, we just want to play hard. It was a goal to maybe get to 90 wins and we achieved that. Not a goal I guess, the playoffs would be a better goal."

The Twins rallied in the ninth as Nick Punto reached on an error by shortstop Alex Cintron and Mark Redmond singled two batters later before Michael Cuddyer homered to chase Garland.

However, Matt Thornton came on to close out the third straight win for the White Sox.

The third team since 2002 to fail to make the postseason after winning the championship the previous year, Chicago reached 90 wins for the second straight season and the third time in the past six years.

"I don't get paid to win 90 games," Guillen said. "I get paid to be in the pennant race."

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