Tuesday, July 29, 2008
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Span's homer, Slowey's shutout spur Twins past Sox

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[July 29, 2008]  MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Slowey pitched a six-hitter, Denard Span hit his first major league home run and the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 7-0 on Monday night -- striking first in this key AL Central series.

CivicSlowey (7-7) struck out five and walked one, and the Twins moved within 1 1/2 games of the first-place White Sox. These teams play six more times this season, three more this week and all at the Metrodome.

Span and Justin Morneau hit two-run shots in the third inning against Mark Buehrle (8-9), and Brendan Harris later had a two-run double. Buehrle was done after five innings, allowing eight hits and five runs.

Following an excellent five-start stretch during which he went 4-0 with only eight runs allowed in 35 innings, Slowey was hit hard in his previous two appearances -- one before the All-Star break and one after.

Slowey -- strengthening a hold on his spot in the rotation with Francisco Liriano waiting in the minors -- was able to avoid any major headaches against the White Sox.

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In the sixth, after a single by A.J. Pierzynski brought him to the heart of the order, Slowey retired Carlos Quentin on a weak dribbler in front of the plate and struck out Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome. Quentin, Dye and Thome have 71 homers between them.

Buehrle (8-9) was sharp in his first two starts of the second half and brought a 21-11 career record against the Twins into this game, but he didn't have it this time.

Span whacked his first pitch of the third inning into the facade about 10 feet below the upper deck in left-center field, and Morneau followed with his big drive three batters later to make it 4-0.

It just wasn't Chicago's night at all. Center fielder Nick Swisher tried to catch Morneau's homer, but his body was too close on the jump and his glove hit the wall and sailed into the empty football seats.

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Morneau showed off his skill with the glove, too, with three smooth scoops of one-bounce throws to first base. The most eye-catching sequence came in the third, when Alexi Casilla dived to make a one-hop stop of Quentin's smash to second, found the ball after it escaped his glove and bounced off his body, and fired to first for the inning-ending out.

Notes: Minnesota's Carlos Gomez entered the game in the eighth in CF, moving Span to RF. Gomez hadn't played since hurting his back in a collision with the wall in Cleveland while he made a highlight-reel catch. ... Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen decided against sliding slumping 1B Paul Konerko down from No. 6 in the lineup. He said he wants to show faith in him. "He's not swinging the bat that bad. We've got guys who struggle also," Guillen said. ... Twins RF Michael Cuddyer took some swings before the game and put a glove on for the first time in a month. That was progress, but Cuddyer will need a brief rehabilitation assignment for his injured hand and still could be out another two weeks. ... White Sox RHP Jose Contreras (elbow) threw a bullpen session before the game, and told Guillen he felt strong. Contreras could be back in early August.

[Associated Press; By DAVE CAMPBELL]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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