White Sox 7, Twins 3

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MINNEAPOLIS – Freddy Garcia won his sixth straight decision, leading the Chicago White Sox to a 7-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

Scott Podsednik, Joe Crede and Chris Widger homered to help Chicago win despite resting three regulars. The White Sox lead the majors with a 25-12 record.

Unlike Sunday night’s win, in which they gave up seven runs in the first inning and later pulled a triple play to rally past the Twins, the White Sox never trailed this time.

Garcia (6-1) pitched 6 2-3 reliable innings, giving up three runs and seven hits, including a home run by Torii Hunter.

Starter Scott Baker (1-4) was roughed up for the Twins, who split the four-game series.

Justin Morneau drove in Hunter with a sacrifice fly in the second inning, and Hunter’s leadoff shot in the fourth brought Minnesota within 4-2.

Garcia retired eight straight after that, breezing to the victory. He left after an RBI single by Shannon Stewart in the seventh, striking out three and walking one.

Widger, starting in place of catcher A.J. Pierzynski, drove in three runs and had three hits. Podsednik, Crede and Rob Mackowiak also had three of Chicago’s 13 hits.

The Twins needed a strong start from Baker – especially with everyone else in the rotation not named Johan Santana still struggling to find their form.

Before the game, Minnesota decided to send righty Carlos Silva to the bullpen temporarily to give him more time to straighten himself out. Budding star lefty Francisco Liriano will fill his spot for now.

Baker quickly fell behind, despite handling the heart of the Chicago order – Jim Thome and Paul Konerko – without a problem. It was the leadoff man, Podsednik, and a pair of light-hitting subs who did him in.

Widger and Mackowiak, a reserve outfielder, entered the game with only 16 hits – three for extra bases – and eight RBIs in 82 at-bats between them.

Widger drove in Mackowiak with a single in the second, and Podsednik hit an unlikely homer on a full-count pitch two batters later that clanked on the top of the stacks of football seats above right field and made it 3-0.

Podsednik, who went deep twice in the postseason, including a shot that ended Game 2 of the World Series, last homered in the regular season on Sept. 30, 2004, for the Milwaukee Brewers. This was his first home run in 162 regular-season games with the White Sox, and he grinned as he reached the dugout and received a congratulatory helmet slap from Thome.

Chicago had at least two runners on in every inning, and Widger led off the fourth with his homer. In the fifth, Crede singled and scored on Widger’s single.

That summoned Willie Eyre to relieve Baker, who gave up a career-high 11 hits, five runs and one walk in 4 2-3 innings while striking out four. Eyre loaded the bases in the sixth, and Crede drove in Podsednik with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-2.

Notes: In 14 games batting fourth, Hunter is batting .382 (21-for-55) with three homers and 16 RBIs. … The Twins had four steals in as many tries. Widger has thrown out only one runner stealing in nine attempts this year. … Morneau turned 25 on Monday. … Mackowiak brought a 1-for-17 slump into the game.

AP-ES-05-15-06 1631EDT

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