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Lohse: four hits, one run through seven

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kyle Lohse is making the most of his last
chance to salvage his season.

Lohse pitched seven sharp innings, Michael Cuddyer went 3-for-4
with a homer and the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox
10-1 Thursday night for their ninth straight victory.

The streaking Twins are quickly closing in on their third
consecutive AL Central title. They reduced their magic number for
clinching the division to four.

Lohse (8-11) once appeared to be the odd man out in the Twins'
postseason rotation, but he's finishing strong with a 3-1 record in
his last six starts. On Thursday, he gave up one run, four hits and
one walk, lasting seven innings for only the third time since the
All-Star break.

"I've just been putting things together, and today I felt like
I had a pretty good fastball and slider," Lohse said. "That's my
style. It's just been one of those years, where one start I'll have
it, and the next I won't. Hopefully, I can put together a strong
finish and people can forget about the rest of the year."

Lohse, competing with Carlos Silva for the third spot in the
rotation behind Johan Santana and Brad Radke, had three 1-2-3
innings and got help from his defense throughout the game. Catcher
Pat Borders threw out Willie Harris on a pitchout in the first
after Harris led off with a single, and second baseman Augie Ojeda
turned a nice double play to end the inning.

Cuddyer then helped Lohse when he started a double play in the
sixth inning, diving to his right to grab Carlos Lee's liner to
third, then firing across the diamond to nip Aaron Rowand at first
base.

"I've probably seen him more unhittable, as far as making guys
swing and miss more," Chicago's Paul Konerko said. "But he made
guys put the ball in play and he got some nice defense behind him.
That was a solid start right there."

The Twins, who outscored the White Sox 26-4 in the three-game
sweep, got on the board first when Borders hit a two-out RBI single
in the second.

Minnesota broke the game open with a four-run third. Jose
Offerman drove in one run with a groundout, Cristian Guzman hit an
RBI double, and Cuddyer followed with his 10th home run, a two-run
shot to left.

"We've got tunnel vision right now," Cuddyer said. "We've got
one thing on our minds right now, and that's winning games. Our
pitching and defense have carried us all year, and now we're
starting to swing the bats and score some runs. It's starting to
click."

The White Sox scored their run in the fourth on Ross Gload's
sacrifice fly, but their offense struggled all series, batting just
.150 (15-for-90) with no extra-base hits.

"Two hits in an inning for us is looking mighty good," Konerko
said. "It seems like I can't remember the last time we put a
couple of hits together."

The Twins sealed the win with a five-run eighth inning, getting
RBI doubles from Ojeda and Borders and a three-run double by Justin
Morneau.

White Sox starter Jon Garland (10-11) gave up five runs on nine
hits and three walks. Garland is 1-4 with a 5.61 ERA in his last
nine road starts.

"We gave up unearned runs and we didn't hit," Rowand said,
referring to the entire series. "It's tough to swallow. We hoped
we'd be in a better position than we're in. They came in wanting to
win and played better these three days."

Game notes
Chicago's bullpen has a 10.57 ERA the last six games. The
relievers allowed five runs in one inning Thursday. ... Twins CF
Torii Hunter has a season-high nine-game hitting streak. ... Twins
manager Ron Gardenhire missed his second straight game with the
flu. He went home early on Wednesday and did not come to the park
Thursday. Batting coach Scott Ullger served as acting manager both
nights.