MINNEAPOLIS The winning run reached home plate to put the Minnesota Twins back in first place, and Carlos Gomez and Denard Span still had plenty of energy to burn.
They raced from the dugout toward Alexi Casilla and tackled their teammate, in celebration of his 10th-inning single that capped a 7-6 comeback victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night and gave Minnesota a half-game lead in the AL Central.
The Twins love to use their speed, and they ran circles around the wilting White Sox while sweeping this three-game series.
"They play their heart out, they show up to play against us this week, and the result was what you saw," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. "They never quit."
The White Sox led 6-1 after a six-run fourth in which Minnesota starter Kevin Slowey was knocked out with a bruised wrist and the Twins made three costly defensive mistakes.
"You think, 'Oh, boy, there they go.' But you know what? Not this ballclub," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The Twins host the Kansas City Royals three times this weekend to finish their schedule, while the White Sox head home for a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians. If the two teams are still within a half-game of each other after play is completed Sunday, Chicago must make up a rainout against the Detroit Tigers on Monday. Then, if they're tied, the Twins will have to travel to the South Side for a one-game playoff Tuesday to determine the division champion.
Save for that fourth, which Guillen called their only good inning of the series, the White Sox looked beaten all week. Missing Carlos Quentin (wrist) and Joe Crede (back) from their lineup didn't help, but the rest of their sluggers contributed little.
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was defiant.
"It sucks, but we're still alive," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "Hopefully we go home and win four games and we kick their (butt) on Tuesday. ... They found a way to get enough hits and scrape some across. (Stuff) happens."
Joe Nathan (1-2) pitched two perfect innings for the victory, part of a Minnesota bullpen that totaled 6 1/3 scoreless innings and surrendered only two hits.The Twins host the Kansas City Royals three times this weekend to finish their schedule, while the wilting White Sox head home for a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians. If these teams are still within a half-game of each other after play is completed Sunday, Chicago must make up a rainout against the Detroit Tigers on Monday. Then, if they're tied, the Twins will have to travel to the South Side for a one-game playoff Tuesday to determine the division champion.
TIGERS 7, RAYS 5: At Detroit, Tampa Bay's AL East title celebration was delayed by the Tigers, as Scott Kazmir allowed four homers, including two to Ramon Santiago. Having already secured no worse than a wild-card berth, the Rays would have clinched the division with a victory. Kazmir (12-8) allowed four runs and six hits in five innings, struck out eight and walked two. Ben Zobrist homered twice and had four RBIs for the Rays, headed to their first playoff appearance. Rookie Armando Galarraga (13-6) allowed five runs and six hits in 7 2/3 innings, and Fernando Rodney finished for his 11th save.
RED SOX 6, INDIANS 1: At Boston, Jon Lester flirted with a no-hitter in his final tuneup before the playoffs, allowing two hits over six innings for Boston. Kevin Youkilis was 2-for-3 with his 28th homer for the Red Sox, who retained a mathematical chance of winning the AL East if they win their last three games of the season and Tampa Bay loses its last three. Lester, who threw a no-hitter against Kansas City on May 19, missed the chance to become the fifth pitcher in history with two in a season when Josh Barfield lined a clean double to left to lead off the sixth. Lester (16-6) also gave up an RBI single to Jamey Carroll.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie hit back-to-back singles in the first and back-to-back doubles in the second as the Red Sox opened a 5-0 lead after two innings against Jeremy Sowers (4-9).
BLUE JAYS 8, YANKEES 2: At Toronto, Roy Halladay pitched his major league-leading ninth complete game to become the AL's second 20-game winner. Vernon Wells homered and drove in four runs as the Blue Jays snapped New York's seven-game winning streak. Halladay (20-11) improved to 5-1 in six starts against the Yankees this season and posted his second career 20-win season. The right-hander went 22-7 with nine complete games in 2003, when he won the AL Cy Young award. Halladay, who joined Cleveland's Cliff Lee as a 20-game winner, gave up two runs and six hits. He walked one and struck out five, giving him 206 for the season, a career-high.
Wells hit a two-run homer in the third and added a two-run single in the fourth.
Carl Pavano (4-2) allowed five runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings, his shortest outing since coming off the disabled list last month.
ANGELS 6, MARINERS 4: At Seattle, Vladimir Guerrero hit two home runs including a two-run shot in the ninth inning and Los Angeles moved closer to securing home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs with a 6-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
Mark Teixeira had a one-out single off J.J. Putz (6-5) in the ninth. Guerrero then hits the first pitch from Putz into the bullpen in left for his 27th home run and his 36th multihomer game.With the victory, Los Angeles (99-60) closed in on the best record in the AL. Tampa Bay (96-63) is three games back with three to play. The Angels also matched the franchise record for wins in a season, set by the 2002 team that won the World Series.
PADRES 7, DODGERS 5: At Los Angeles, the Dodgers lost but it didn't matter because they had already clinched their first NL West championship in four years without lifting a bat. Entering the day with a magic number of one, the Dodgers got what they needed when second-place Arizona lost in the afternoon. That was several hours before Brian Giles and Adrian Gonzalez homered and Luis Rodriguez had four hits to lead San Diego to a meaningless victory over the Dodgers in their final home game of the regular season.
CARDINALS 12, DIAMONDBACKS 3: At St. Louis, the Diamondbacks completed their late-season fade with a loss to the Cardinals that eliminated Arizona in the NL West. Arizona (79-80) led the division by 4 1/2 games before play on Aug. 29, then lost 11 of 14 as the Dodgers took control of the division. Albert Pujols had a three-run homer and four RBIs to back Joel Pineiro (7-7), who allowed three runs and three hits over seven innings. Arizona's Mark Reynolds set a major league record when he struck out twice, raising his season total to 201. Philadelphia's Ryan Howard set the previous mark of 199 last year. Howard began the day with 196 this season. Pujols (35) and Ryan Ludwick (36) hit consecutive homers in a five-run seventh that opened an 11-3 lead.
BREWERS 5, PIRATES 1 (10 INNINGS): At Milwaukee, Ryan Braun hit a grand slam in the 10th inning and Milwaukee finished a sweep of Pittsburgh to remain tied with New York in the NL wild-card race. Rickie Weeks led off the 10th with a single off reliever Jesse Chavez. After a sacrifice bunt, the Pirates walked Ray Durham intentionally. Chavez (0-1) struck out Mike Cameron, but walked pinch-hitter Craig Counsell to load the bases. Braun homered deep to left field, his 36th of the season. Mitch Stetter (3-1) earned the victory after pitching out of a jam in the top half of the 10th.
METS 7, CUBS 6: At New York, Carlos Beltran singled home the winning run with two outs in the ninth and New York rallied for the win that kept it tied for the wild-card lead. Lightly used rookie Micah Hoffpauir went 5-for-5 with five RBIs and his first two major league homers including a tiebreaking shot in the seventh off Ricardo Rincon that gave Chicago a 6-3 lead. Jose Reyes singled off Kevin Hart (2-2) to start the ninth and swiped second for his third steal of the game as David Wright fanned for the second out. Carlos Delgado was intentionally walked and Beltran lined a 2-0 pitch off the glove of a diving Hoffpauir at first base.
ASTROS 8, REDS 6: At Houston, Roy Oswalt allowed two hits and struck out three in six innings to keep Houston barely alive for the wild card. The Astros remained 3 1/2 games behind New York and Milwaukee. One more Houston loss or victory by either the Mets or Brewers will eliminate the Astros. Michael Bourn matched a career high with four RBIs and Oswalt (17-10) added an RBI single as the Astros beat the Reds for the 12th time in 15 meetings. Oswalt (17-10), pitching on three days' rest, improved to 11-2 in his last 13 decisions. He has won 23 of 24 decisions against Cincinnati.
Oswalt breezed after giving up a solo homer to Corey Patterson in the first. Patterson's 10th home run of the season was only the second allowed by Oswalt in his last seven starts.
The Astros loaded the bases on Johnny Cueto (9-14) in the second and Bourn drove a double into the left-field corner to make it 3-1.
ROCKIES 3, GIANTS 1: At San Francisco, Clint Barmes homered for the second straight game, pitcher Jorge De La Rosa hit an RBI single and Colorado completed a three-game sweep of the Giants. De La Rosa (10-8) struck out seven in seven scoreless innings to win his second straight start, retiring the final 11 batters he faced and 17 of his last 19 overall. De La Rosa gave up three hits and pitched perhaps his best outing of the year in his final 2008 start. He also blanked the Giants over seven innings Sept. 1, striking out six and allowing four hits.