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Twins top Loaiza to regain tie in Central

9/12/2003

CHICAGO (AP) -- Any other time, the Minnesota Twins would be
celebrating Brad Radke's stellar pitching outing and the gutty way
they climbed back into a tie for the AL Central lead.

But one look at third-base coach Al Newman's jersey hanging in
the dugout was enough to remind the Twins there are other things
more important than baseball. Even when they're in the hunt for the
playoffs.

"Our thoughts are still with Al Newman, so it's a little tough
for us in here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after the Twins
beat Esteban Loaiza and the Chicago White Sox 5-2 on Thursday.

"That was a big performance by us. We take a little bit off of
it because of what's going on with our coach," Gardenhire added.
"That makes it a little harder. But it doesn't take away from the
performance our baseball team put out on the field today."

Newman remained hospitalized in serious condition after
suffering a hemorrhage in his brain before Wednesday night's game.
He was still undergoing tests Thursday afternoon to determine the
cause of the hemorrhage, but Gardenhire said his prognosis is good.

"Not having him here is difficult, but one thing you have to do
is you have to focus on the task at hand, and that's playing,"
Denny Hocking said. "When you have a situation like we have, you
try to elevate your game, and I think everybody in this locker room
did that these last two days."

The Twins certainly did Thursday. Radke pitched a complete game
to win his most important start of the year, and Shannon Stewart
and Hocking each drove in a pair of runs.

Minnesota salvaged a split of the four-game series, pulling even
with the White Sox with two straight wins.

The Twins spoiled Loaiza's bid for his 20th victory. The
All-Star starter (19-7) lost for only the second time since the
break, giving up five runs and seven hits over seven innings.

Earlier in the afternoon, Toronto's Roy Halladay became the
first 20-game winner in the majors when he beat Tampa Bay.

"It didn't go my way," Loaiza said. "I made a couple of
mistakes throwing middle-away, and they got some base hits and took
advantage."

Radke (12-10) didn't give the White Sox much of anything.
Besides Frank Thomas' first-inning homer and a solo shot by Jose
Valentin in the ninth, Radke gave up only singles.

He allowed a total of nine hits, walked none and struck out five
in his third complete game of the season. It was his fourth
straight victory.

"We had to come out and get a win today," Radke said. "That
was a big win for us."

The schedule favors Minnesota from here on out. The teams play a
three-game series next week in Minnesota, but the Twins' other
games are against Detroit and Cleveland.

Chicago gets Boston, New York and Kansas City -- all playoff
contenders.

"They played much better baseball than we did the last two
days," White Sox second baseman Roberto Alomar said. "I was a
little disappointed that we couldn't get at least one more game. We
were home and we always play good at home.

"Now it's going to be a tough road trip."

Loaiza has been the best pitcher in the majors since the
All-Star break, going 8-2 with a 3.63 ERA in 11 starts. Bidding to
become the White Sox's first 20-game winner since Jack McDowell in
1993, he was greeted with a loud, standing ovation when he walked
in from the bullpen before the game.

Loaiza got off to a strong start, pitching two perfect innings
and getting an early lead with Thomas' 40th homer.

But things unraveled quickly in the third. Jacque Jones led off
with a single to shallow right, taking third on A.J. Pierzynski's
single. Loaiza then hit Cristian Guzman to load the bases with no
outs.

Stewart followed with a two-run double off the wall in center.
Alomar lost Carl Everett's throw in the sun and the ball got away
from him, allowing Guzman to score and Stewart to take third.

Hocking followed with a sacrifice fly, and Minnesota had a 4-1
lead.

"This is probably the worst game we played in a while, both
offensively and defensively," White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said.
"When you do that at this point of the year, it's costly. And it
definitely cost us today."

Game notes
Thomas now has five 40-homer seasons in his career. ...
Brian Daubach's single in the sixth inning was his 500th career
hit. ... White Sox LHP Mark Buehrle took Chicago's lineup card to
the umpires before the game. ... Thursday's game was broadcast in
Mexico, Loaiza's native country.