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Santana (18-6) wins 11th straight decision

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Nearing a third straight division title,
Johan Santana and the Minnesota Twins aren't short on motivation.
Their rivals, the fading Chicago White Sox, gave them a little
more.

Santana turned in another dominant start with seven shutout
innings, and the Twins used a nine-run sixth to beat the White Sox
10-2 Tuesday night and extend their winning streak to seven.

Santana (18-6) won his 10th straight start and 11th consecutive
decision, and Minnesota increased its lead over Chicago in the AL
Central to a season-high 11½ games with 18 to play. The Cleveland
Indians are 14 games back.

The Twins didn't arrive home until 4 a.m. Tuesday, ending an
eight-day trip, and they were tired. White Sox starter Freddy
Garcia woke them up in the first inning when he hit Torii Hunter in
the back with a pitch.

Minnesota believed it was retaliation for Hunter's hard charge
toward home plate that knocked over and injured catcher Jamie Burke
when the teams met in Chicago in late July. Garcia insisted he was
just trying to throw inside, but the damage was done.

"It angered us, and that's not the way you play the game,"
said Jacque Jones, who got the first hit off Garcia in the sixth to
spark the big rally.

Santana is 16-2 in 19 starts since June 9 with 179 strikeouts
and 62 hits allowed in 140 1-3 innings. He is one shy of the most
consecutive victories for the team since it moved to Minnesota in
1961, a mark set in 1991 by Scott Erickson and tied in 1997 by Brad
Radke.

"To me, he's the Cy Young winner," White Sox manager Ozzie
Guillen said. "No doubt about it, he deserves it."

Lew Ford and Henry Blanco each drove in two runs for the Twins,
who have won 11 of 13.

"Certain things happen in the course of a game to kind of give
you a little wakeup call, and that kind of got us a little
excited," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You could see the level
of intensity rise."

Santana was the first to show it by hitting Carlos Lee on the
elbow in the fourth, prompting a warning for both benches.

"You have to protect your players," Santana said.

Added Hunter: "If you're going to hit a guy on purpose, we're
going to hit your guy on purpose."

Lee took out Augie Ojeda with a hard slide at second base, and
shortstop Cristian Guzman barked at Lee as the inning ended. Then
the rest of the lineup joined in, bombarding Garcia and three
relievers in the sixth until Minnesota had a 9-0 lead.

Garcia (11-11) unraveled, and the White Sox followed his lead.
He allowed six runs -- five earned -- three hits and five walks in 5
1-3 innings.

Garcia walked the leadoff man three times, and Ojeda and Blanco
both reached base on four balls to start the sixth. Shannon Stewart
moved them up with a sacrifice, and Jones slapped a single to left
on a slider that Garcia left over the plate.

"I made a couple pitches and didn't get a call, but I've got to
forget about it," Garcia said.

Eight straight batters reached, Chicago made two errors and 13
men came to the plate. After an RBI double by Torii Hunter, Justin
Morneau was walked intentionally and Ford hit a two-run single to
chase Garcia and make it 4-0.

"That says a lot about our team," Jones said.

Santana walked Burke on a full count with two outs in the
seventh, and Joe Crede crushed a line drive to right center that
could've given Chicago its first run. But Hunter raced over to make
a fully extended diving catch and end the inning, though replays
showed the ball bounced on the turf first.

Just another sign of how everything is going Minnesota's way.

"They always have good execution," Guillen said. "Nobody's
leading in home runs or average, but everybody knows what his role
is and they play good baseball."

The White Sox were quiet and deflated in the clubhouse
afterward.

"We didn't get the breaks," center field Aaron Rowand said.

Game notes
Minnesota established a season high with the nine runs in
the sixth. The Twins record is 11, accomplished several times, and
the franchise record is 12 by the Washington Senators against the
St. Louis Browns in the eighth inning on July 10, 1926. ...
Chicago's four-game winning streak at the Metrodome ended. The
season series is tied at seven. ... The franchise record for
consecutive wins is 16, set by Walter Johnson in 1912 and matched
by Alvin Crowder in 1932 and 1933.