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Twins Trump Move by Chicago's Manuel

September 17, 2003|From Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Chicago White Sox Manager Jerry Manuel flip-flopped Jon Garland and Esteban Loaiza in the starting rotation.

But Loaiza just flopped in the opener of a key three-game series with the Minnesota Twins.

Brad Radke (13-10) defeated Loaiza (19-8) for the second time in six days and the Twins stretched their American League Central lead over the White Sox to 1 1/2 games with a 5-2 victory Tuesday.

"It seems like every time you need a big start out of him, he comes in and does the job," Minnesota catcher A.J. Pierzynski said of Radke, who won his fifth consecutive decision.

Loaiza, fighting flu, couldn't find the plate. He walked a season-high five in 2 1/3 innings -- his shortest start this year.

"My curve was moving too much, and they weren't swinging at it," Loaiza said. "I did my best, and we did too. We just need to come back and win."

The Twins, who clinched the division on Sept. 15 last season, have been alone in first place for two days in a row -- the first time it has happened since June 22-23.

"Driver's seat? Oh, my," Manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We just want to come out and try to play. We don't worry about the driver's seat."

Loaiza had been tied for seventh in the league in fewest walks per nine innings (2.0), but he started the game with a leadoff walk to Shannon Stewart. After four singles, four runs, 74 pitches and seven outs, he was gone.

Radke, who gave up eight singles and one run in seven innings, gave up consecutive hits to begin the game. But Frank Thomas hit into a double play and Magglio Ordonez flied out.

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