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Twins outlast Chisox to pad wild-card lead

By TIMES WIRES
Published August 27, 2006


CHICAGO - Nick Punto hit a run-scoring single with two outs in the 11th, and Minnesota increased its wild-card lead to 1½ games.

Jermaine Dye's two-run homer in the ninth off Twins closer Joe Nathan tied it at 7, but Minnesota pushed across the winner against Matt Thornton.

Pinch-hitter Lew Ford led off the 11th with a single, then 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 first baseman Ross Gload to score Ford.

Nathan blew his second save in 29 chances. Dye's 38th homer followed a single by Tadahito Iguchi.

The Twins have won nine of 12. Chicago has lost eight of 12.

Down 6-3, Chicago rallied against the Twins bullpen. Paul Konerko hit his 29th homer 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.

Notable: Twins right-hander Brad Radke, who left Friday night's start after two innings, went to Minnesota to have a cortisone injection in his right shoulder. He has been pitching with a torn labrum.