Twins 8, White Sox 4

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MINNEAPOLIS – Justin Morneau’s two-run single followed Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen’s ejection and capped a five-run fifth inning for the Minnesota Twins, who topped the White Sox 8-4 on Saturday night.

Luis Castillo went 3-for-5 with a home run, and everyone in the lineup had at least one hit for the Twins, who have won six of their last seven games. They overcame a 4-0 deficit with six singles and a disputed hit batter in a disastrous fifth for the White Sox and starter Javier Vazquez (4-2).

Brad Radke (4-4) was the beneficiary, evening his record despite an ERA that dipped slightly to 7.57. Most of Chicago’s well-hit balls were right at somebody, as evidenced by three sacrifice flies.

Scott Podsednik tripled, singled and scored twice for Chicago, which has lost three straight. Owners of the best record in baseball (23-12), the White Sox have only two losing streaks this season. The other was a four-game skid in early April.

Francisco Liriano struck out four in 2 1-3 innings of scoreless relief for Minnesota.

Shannon Stewart’s sacrifice fly cut the lead to 4-1 and left Vazquez with one out to get and one runner on in the fifth. But Castillo barely beat out a dribbler in front of the mound, drawing an argument from Guillen. Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter each drove in runs with singles, and Michael Cuddyer loaded the bases on a pitch that grazed his chest. But Cuddyer was in the middle of a swing, and TV replays showed he came close to going all the way around.

Guillen thought so, and he was ejected after yelling at first base umpire Dale Scott. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was angry, too, and pitching coach Don Cooper was ejected from the dugout by plate umpire Ron Kulpa. Then Morneau came through with his big hit to give the Twins their first lead.

Castillo’s two-out, two-run shot barely cleared the big blue wall above right field in the sixth, chasing Vazquez and giving Minnesota a 7-4 advantage. Mauer’s RBI single made it 8-4 in the eighth.

After surrendering two runs or less and lasting six innings or more in five of his first six starts, Vazquez yielded 10 hits and seven runs while striking out two – raising his ERA a full run to 3.88.

With Johan Santana in dominant form, having struck out 10 in seven innings of a 10-1 victory on Friday, the Twins needed Radke to perform like the No. 2 starter they’re paying $9 million for this year – and not the way he threw in six of his first seven outings.

His only quality start was a win over woeful Kansas City on May 3, when he gave up four hits and one run in seven innings. The 33-year-old Radke, who has anchored Minnesota’s rotation since 1995, gave up 11 hits and six runs in five innings earlier this week against Texas. In his last start against Chicago, on April 22, he was roughed up for 10 hits and six runs in five innings.

Though the young left-hander Liriano is eagerly waiting, the Twins have insisted Radke is safe – and stressed they’re more concerned with his confidence than having him prove his position in the rotation.

Radke didn’t exactly sparkle, allowing eight hits, four runs and two walks while striking out one in 5 2-3 innings before yielding to Liriano. But Radke – who has allowed 66 hits in 44 innings – minimized the damage, allowing his teammates the opportunity to come back.

Joe Crede and Paul Konerko hit sacrifice flies in the second and third innings, and Jim Thome did the same in the fifth. Jermaine Dye’s two-out RBI single later that inning put the White Sox up by four.

Notes: The Twins lead the majors with 41 infield hits this season, and Castillo has a team-high 10. … With Guillen and Cooper sent to the clubhouse, bench coach Tim Raines had to go to the mound to make the pitching changes. … Morneau stole his first career base in the seventh.

AP-ES-05-13-06 2206EDT


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