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With pressure on, Twins top White Sox

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins needed this one badly.

Shannon Stewart drove in a pair of runs and Johan Santana won
his fourth straight decision Wednesday night as the Minnesota Twins
pulled within one game of the AL Central lead with a 4-1 victory
over the Chicago White Sox.

"It was a big one. You don't want to come in here and lose
three in a row to these guys and face" Esteban Loaiza on Thursday,
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

"For our side, it was like a playoff game," Gardenhire added.
"We knew we wanted to win this ballgame, and there was a lot of
intensity in our dugout."

Santana (10-3) kept Chicago off-balance all night, and the Twins
got breaks on two big calls as they snapped a six-game losing
streak to the White Sox.

The White Sox did threaten in the seventh, putting runners at
second and third with only one out. LaTroy Hawkins relieved, and
pinch-hitter Brian Daubach appeared to foul a ball off.

But the ball touched the plate and catcher A.J. Pierzynski
grabbed it, tagging Daubach for the second out. White Sox manager
Jerry Manuel argued, but the call stood.

"That killed a real big inning for us," Frank Thomas said.
"We needed tonight, but tomorrow's a big swing game."

Try huge. The teams have a three-game series in Minneapolis next
week, but the Twins have the edge when it comes to the schedule.
While Chicago's other remaining games are against Boston, New York
and Kansas City, Minnesota gets Cleveland and Detroit.

"We need to have a little momentum going on the road trip,"
Manuel said. "I still feel we're playing good baseball. Tonight,
they got a couple of breaks and we didn't get a couple of breaks.
We had a couple of opportunities, and didn't take advantage of
them."

Santana was winless in his first nine appearances against the
White Sox, but he had them figured out Wednesday. He scattered six
hits and a run in 6 1-3 innings, always getting the big out when he
needed it.

The White Sox stranded seven, four in scoring position.

Eddie Guardado worked a perfect ninth for his 34th save in 37
chances.

"They made some key pitches in key situations," Thomas said.
"When we had men on, they found ways to get us out."

Magglio Ordonez drove in the only run for Chicago, which saw its
five-game winning streak end. Jon Garland (11-11) gave up three
runs and seven hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking
two.

Garland allowed just two hits in the first four innings, but he
got in trouble in the fifth after a questionable call. Tony
Graffanino made a tough, sliding stop on Torii Hunter's grounder,
and his throw to first appeared to be in time.

But Hunter was called safe.

Corey Koskie followed with a single, and Garland hit Pierzynski
to load the bases. Guzman and Stewart then had back-to-back
sacrifice flies to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead.

"It's a real close call," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko
said. "Was he out? Yeah. But that's the toughest call for an
umpire to make. And a guy on first with no outs, that shouldn't be
a game-breaking play."

The White Sox got a run back in the sixth on Ordonez's sacrifice
fly, but Stewart and LeCroy gave the Twins insurance runs.

"This was a huge win for us," Santana said. "We were looking
for this. Now tomorrow we have a chance to tie the series and have
a chance to go to Cleveland even."

Game notes
Twins 3B coach Al Newman was taken to Rush Presbyterian
Hospital for tests after complaining of severe head pain before the
game. ... It was only the Twins' second victory in their last 13
games in Chicago. ... The White Sox scored just one run behind
Garland, well below their average of 6.17 runs when he's on the
mound. ... Stewart is batting .379 over his last six games.