Hunter lifts Minnesota in the 10th


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- This late in the season, even game-winning
celebrations can be exhausting.

Torii Hunter's 10th-inning sacrifice fly gave the Minnesota Twins a 5-4 victory Sunday over the Texas Rangers, but after the game, the Twins weren't expending much energy congratulating each other.

"I breathed a sigh of relief," Doug Mientkiewicz said. "We're all too beat up to go punching on each other."

The Twins have won five straight and 10 of their last 13 as they
kept pace with the Chicago White Sox, who completed a three-game
sweep of Cleveland. The Twins and the White Sox, tied for first in the AL Central, open a four-game series at Chicago on Monday night.

"It was a good win for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
"Now we get to go on and have some fun in Chi-town. We're just
going to go play some baseball, do some work and get ready to take
some swings at them and see what happens. It ought to be a lot of

Mientkiewicz led off the 10th with a walk against Francisco Cordero (4-7). After Matthew LeCroy singled, third baseman Hank Blalock fielded Jacque Jones' bunt and tried to force Mientkiewicz
at third. But umpire Chuck Meriwether ruled that his throw pulled
shortstop Alex Rodriguez off the base and all runners were safe.

"Chuck is a human being. He can make a mistake," Rodriguez
said. "He said the throw pulled me off, but it was obvious on the
video it didn't."

Hunter hit the game-winning sacrifice fly to right field on
Cordero's next pitch, and Mientkiewicz scored easily as Laynce Nix's throw was up the third-base line.

"I was looking for a certain pitch," Hunter said. "I sat on a
slider and tried to take it the other way, and it worked out, just
like that. I just wanted to get it in the air and get it to right

Rick Reed (6-12) pitched two innings of scoreless relief the day
he was activated from the 15-day disabled list. He gave up one hit
and retired six of the seven batters he faced.

Mientkiewicz had a pair of RBI singles for the Twins, including
a two-out hit to left field that tied the game at 4 in the seventh.
He said after the game that he wanted to atone for a two-base error that
led to a pair of unearned runs in the sixth inning, when Rangers
rookie Gerald Laird hit a two-out, two-run triple to give Texas a
4-3 lead.

"I'm happy we won that one," Mientkiewicz said. "I would have
been sick if I had cost us that one. It's a ground ball I field 99
times out of 100, and I booted it."

Any time the former Gold Glove winner makes an error, his teammates are surprised.

"Dougie finally missed a ball, but you can't get on him about
that because he caught 1,000 before that," Hunter said. "But he
came through with some clutch hits and tied the game up, so you've
got to commend Dougie on that."

Twins starter Kenny Rogers almost escaped a bases-loaded, no-out
jam in the third inning after he stabbed Shane Spencer's one-hopper
and started a 1-2-3 double play. But after issuing an intentional
walk to Rodriguez, Rogers also walked Rafael Palmeiro to force in a
run, giving Texas a 2-1 lead.

Texas starter Colby Lewis allowed three runs on three hits and
three walks in 4 2/3 innings.

"Almost 50 percent of their guys had three-ball counts,"
Rangers manager Buck Showalter said of Lewis' performance. "That
turns pitchers' counts into batters' counts. It all has to do with
command. That's been his problem all along."

Game notes
Texas 2B Michael Young got his 56th multihit game on
Sunday, tied for third-best in the AL. ... Twins LF Shannon Stewart
was not in the starting lineup because of a sore hamstring. Stewart had
started 46 consecutive games either in the outfield or at DH.
rookie Michael Ryan replaced Stewart in left, and led off the
bottom of the first with a home run. ... Twins 2B Luis Rivas was a late scratch from the lineup after experiencing back pain during