Extra wild: Twins build lead on ChiSox with win in 11

CHICAGO (AP) -- Jermaine Dye's two-run, ninth-inning homer off
stellar closer Joe Nathan tied the game and sent the crowd at U.S.
Cellular Field into a frenzy.

What it didn't do was deflate the Minnesota Twins.

Nick Punto singled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the 11th
and Minnesota pushed its wild card lead over Chicago to 1½ games
Saturday night by beating the White Sox 8-7.

"We just keep fighting. We don't get down," Punto said after
the Twins won for the ninth time in 12 games and moved within four
games of AL Central leader Detroit.

"Super Joe Nathan blew a save," Punto said. "He never does
that. Some teams might get down. We didn't."

It was just the second blown save in 29 chances this season for
Nathan. This time it was his teammates' turn to bail him out.

"That's the way we come in and play the game," Nathan said.
"The game was tied. It's not like we were losing. We knew we still
had some baseball to play."

The Twins used a small-ball approach to push across the game
winner against Matt Thornton (4-2).

Pinch-hitter Lew Ford led off the 11th with a single, moved to
second on Jason Bartlett's sacrifice and to third on Luis
Castillo's grounder. Punto then hit the ball the other way past
diving Chicago first baseman Ross Gload to score Ford.

"They don't lean on one guy. They're all playing good
baseball," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Willie Eyre (1-0) pitched two innings for his first major-league

Dye's 38th homer followed a single by Tadahito Iguchi, who moved
to second on an error.

But the long drive to left couldn't keep the defending World
Series champions from losing for the eighth time in 12 games,
including the first two of the three-game series with Minnesota.

"A good game. A tough loss," Dye said. "A lot of emotion out
there. We fought back against [Johan] Santana and then to tie the
game was great. We just let one get away."

Santana, who'd already beaten the White Sox three times this
season, allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings, including
homers to Gload and Sandy Alomar Jr. He left with a 6-3 lead.

But Chicago rallied against the Twins' bullpen.

Paul Konerko hit his 29th homer, connecting off Juan Rincon in
the eighth to make it 6-4. After Dennys Reyes walked two to load
the bases and threw two more balls, Pat Neshek relieved and gave up
a sacrifice fly to pinch-hitter Alex Cintron before striking out
A.J. Pierzynski.

The Twins then made it 7-5 with an unearned run in the top of
the ninth off Bobby Jenks when Tyner led off by reaching on Juan
Uribe's error. Castillo had an infield single and Punto a sacrifice

Minnesota drove struggling Chicago starter Jose Contreras out
after 2 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. He gave up
five runs and seven hits and in his last three starts has
surrendered 27 hits and 19 runs in 14 1/3 innings.

"I've never seen Jose worse than that," Guillen said. "I'm
worried about him now."

Rondell White and Jason Tyner had two RBI each and Torii Hunter
homered off Brandon McCarthy to help the Twins build their lead.

White drove an RBI triple over Rob Mackowiak's head in center,
reaching third with an ugly chest-first slide. Tyner then dropped a
soft single to right-center and the Twins had a 2-0 lead.

Bartlett, who had the go-ahead single Friday night in the ninth
inning, then hit a ground-rule double over Mackowiak's head to make
it 3-0. Mackowiak had an RBI grounder in the second inning after
the White Sox loaded the bases.

White delivered an RBI grounder in the third after singles by
Cuddyer and Justin Morneau before Tyner lined a run-scoring single
to right to make it 5-1 and finish Contreras.

Game Notes
Rain delayed the start of the game 25 minutes. ... Alomar's
homer was his first since Sept. 17, 2004, against Detroit. He is in
his third stint with the White Sox. ... Sox DH Jim Thome missed his
third straight game with a strained left hamstring. ... Twins RHP
Brad Radke, who left Friday night's start after two innings, went
back to Minnesota to have a cortisone injection in his right
shoulder. He has been pitching with a torn labrum. ... Hunter has
homered in four straight games. ... Castillo stole his 300th career
base. ... Dye, who was 0-for-4 when he homered, now has 101 RBI.