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Garza faces Orioles as Twins close in on postseason

Sep 24, 2006 - 2:25 PM Minnesota (91-63) at Baltimore (68-87) 1:35 pm EDT

BALTIMORE (Ticker) -- Matt Garza had his coming out party against the Baltimore Orioles last month.

The Minnesota Twins are close to throwing a party of their own and they hope to move closer to the postseason Sunday when Garza faces the Orioles in the rubber game of a weekend series.

Minnesota currently leads the Chicago White Sox by 5 1/2 games for the top spot in the American League wild card standings. The Twins also trail the first-place Detroit Tigers by 1 1/2 games in the Central Division with eight games remaining.

Garza (2-5, 5.40 ERA) has pitched better than his statistics indicate. The rookie righthander has allowed three runs or fewer in five of his eight appearances and has surrendered just one homer in his last seven games, spanning 39 innings.

The best start of Garza's young career came against the Orioles on August 23, when he allowed only one unearned run in six innings of a 4-1 triumph. That was his only victory before Tuesday, when he yielded three runs in 5 2/3 frames en route to a 7-3 win vs. Boston.

The Twins avoided a three-game losing streak with Saturday's 8-5 victory against the Orioles. Torii Hunter hit a two-run homer and Rondell White went 4-for-4 for Minnesota.

Adam Loewen (6-5, 5.35) will take the ball for Baltimore in the series finale. The rookie lefthander improved to 4-1 over his last seven starts Tuesday, allowing four runs in six innings of a 5-4 triumph against Tampa Bay.

Just like Garza, Loewen will be facing the team against which he enjoyed the best start of his brief career. The 22-year-old held the Twins to one run and four hits in eight innings of a 6-3 win on August 22.

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