Five-run first inning keys Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) -- A quick start gave Bartolo Colon an early cushion. Then he used his arm and glove to send the Chicago White Sox into sole possession of first in the AL Central.

Colon pitched his seventh complete game Monday night, escaping
numerous scoring threats and making a big defensive play, as the
White Sox used a five-run first to beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2 in the opener of their AL Central showdown.

"That's big for us to jump out in that fashion and get the hits that we did," White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said.

"Every time Bartolo got into trouble, he went up a notch, so you knew fatigue was not a factor in letting him go."

Colon gave up 10 hits and snuffed out a Twins rally in the seventh when he snared Denny Hocking's liner up the middle with runners at second and third and no outs.

He then struck out Doug Mientkiewicz and got Matthew LeCroy to fly out on a pitch that was clocked at 102 mph.

"The ball caught me," Colon said of his defensive play.

With the victory, Chicago took a one-game lead at the start of
what promises to be a frenetic final three weeks of the season.
After three more games at U.S. Cellular Field, the teams also play
three times next week at the Metrodome.

Minnesota starter Kyle Lohse almost didn't make it out of the
first as the White Sox scored five times with two outs while
batting around.

And Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn't survive the fourth,
ejected after an argument with plate umpire Gerry Davis.

"You don't want to cry, but we hit some balls pretty hard and
they made some plays," Gardenhire said. "Colon did what he is
supposed to do -- get people out in big situations. Denny hit a
bullet right into his glove."

Colon (13-12) walked one and struck out four, throwing 117 pitches.

The White Sox, responding to a loud crowd of 32,807 on a
half-price ticket night, came out quickly.

Carlos Lee doubled with one out in the first, Frank Thomas
walked and after Magglio Ordonez popped out, Carl Everett hit an
RBI single.

Paul Konerko walked to load the bases before Jose Valentin
blooped a two-run single to center to make it 3-0. Joe Crede
followed with a single and then Miguel Olivo hit a sinking liner to
left-center that a diving Shannon Stewart couldn't hold, turning it
into a two-run double.

Lohse, 6-1 in his seven previous starts, settled down thereafter
and allowed just two hits in his final five innings.

"It's a little frustrating," Lohse said. "They got a couple
of balls, if they hang up there a little longer, they were outs."

Minnesota got two runs back in the top of the second on an RBI
double by Torii Hunter and A.J. Pierzynski's run-scoring grounder
after Corey Koskie singled and moved up on a wild pitch.

Gardenhire was ejected for the seventh time this season when he
argued with Davis in the middle of the fourth, right after
first-base umpire Mark Carlson ruled Cristian Guzman's liner over
first foul.

"They yelled at us because we got excited when it was just
foul, the one Guzman hit," Gardenhire said.

"What are we supposed to do? It's a playoff atmosphere, guys
react to it. ... Finally I just had enough and said, 'Why don't you
watch the game? Just be out there, do the umpiring and leave our
dugout alone.'"

Gardenhire also questioned a call earlier when Mientkiewicz had
to hold third on LeCroy's grounder past third because a fan fielded
the ball, making it a ground-rule double.

Game notes
The White Sox have won five straight over the Twins and
lead the season series 8-5. ... Twins 2B Luis Rivas missed his second straight game with a sore back. ... Stewart returned
to the lineup after sitting out Sunday's game with a sore hamstring. ... The teams shared first place for the previous five days.