Hunter walk forces in winning run; Twins sweep ChiSox

Twins 7, White Sox 6

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Twins pieced together another small-ball comeback, leaving Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen a little jealous -- and mostly furious.

Torii Hunter's four-pitch, bases-loaded walk forced in the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning and sent the surging Twins past the struggling White Sox 7-6 on Wednesday for a three-game sweep.

About 19 months after Chicago's World Series title, Guillen was so frustrated by another flat performance that during his latest rant he almost sounded resigned to losing his job.

"I'm going to get fired? Good. Is this team going to get better having me out of there? I'd be too happy with it. But as long as I'm here, we've got to play better. As long as I'm here, we have to play better," Guillen said after the fourth straight loss by the White Sox (24-24).

Minnesota moved past Chicago into third place in the AL Central, rallying from a 6-1 deficit after 2½ innings against Jon Garland.

After beating the White Sox by a combined 19-6 the first two nights, the Twins won for the ninth time in 12 games thanks to a bunch of walks and bouncers -- plus excellent defense and plain old good luck.

"They compete as a team. They get you as a team, and that's why they win," said Guillen, who alternated between blaming himself and criticizing his players throughout his postgame remarks.

Guillen has long been impressed by the Twins, who sped by the slumping White Sox last summer on the way to their fourth division title in the last five years. But he pinned most of the afternoon's performance on the visiting team.

"Offense, defense, pitching, manager, coaches, we all stink," Guillen said.

Facing Mike MacDougal (1-2) in the ninth, Jason Tyner drew a one-out walk and moved to second when Nick Punto hit a chopper to Paul Konerko for a possible double play. Konerko's throw grazed Tyner before hitting shortstop Alex Cintron in the right knee for an error on the first baseman.

"It was just a bad throw, not really a fluke," Konerko said. "I've made that play a million times."

Cintron fielded Michael Cuddyer's grounder deep in the hole, but his throw to second was not in time to force Punto. Boone Logan retired Justin Morneau, but David Aardsma was summoned to face Hunter and walked the free-swinging slugger on four pitches to end the game.

"I thought it was pathetic," Aardsma said.

Hunter, who finished with three RBIs and leads the team with 45, wanted to swing the bat, of course. He lobbied for the green light when the count went to 3-0.

"I saw the ump say, 'You need to come touch first base,' and I was like, 'Oh, OK,'" Hunter said. "I didn't know what to do. It was weird, man. That was something totally different. But I like it. We won."

Chicago gave up 47 hits over the previous three games. While Garland allowed just five in six innings, the right-hander walked five and struck out only two.

He took that 6-1 lead into the bottom of the third and walked the leadoff batter, Jason Bartlett. Punto and Cuddyer walked, too, loading the bases with one out and bringing a frustrated pitching coach, Don Cooper, out of the dugout.

Morneau hit a sacrifice fly, and Hunter followed with a two-run double on the first pitch he saw to cut the lead to two. In the sixth, Garland gave up an RBI groundout to Jeff Cirillo and an run-scoring single to Chris Heintz that tied the game at 6.

Heintz's hit took Scott Baker off the hook. After a stellar debut for Minnesota 11 days earlier when he replaced Sidney Ponson in the rotation, Baker has regressed in his last two starts.

Some of his breaking balls missed the plate by a few feet and he gave up six runs and 10 hits in only three innings -- including Rob Mackowiak's two-run homer.

Manager Ron Gardenhire, however, was most disappointed by Baker's failure to cover first base when Morneau made a diving stop of Cintron's grounder in the second.

"Those are things that you can't get away with at this level when you're trying to win ballgames," Gardenhire said.

The Twins got away with it, though, by doing just about everything else right. Jason Miller, Matt Guerrier, Pat Neshek and Joe Nathan (2-1) teamed up to throw six hitless innings in relief, and Jason Kubel's jumping catch against the left-field wall to take a homer away from Tadahito Iguchi in the top of the ninth highlighted a series of standout defensive plays in the late innings.

"Guys start getting confident, and that's what happens," Gardenhire said.

Game notes
Of Minnesota's 26 runs in this series, 18 came with two outs. ... This was the final game as Minnesota's official scorer for Tom Mee, the first employee hired by the organization when the franchise moved from Washington before the 1961 season. Mee worked in public relations and became official scorer in 1991.