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Minnesota sweeps out the White Sox

By Jason Williams

Knight Ridder Newspapers

MINNEAPOLIS -- So many times this season, Kyle Lohse has caused the Twins to stall.

Not Thursday night, when the enigmatic right-hander had one of his best post-all-star break outings as the Twins extended their winning streak to a season-high nine games and completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox with a 10-1 victory at the Metrodome.

"Very, very nice," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said.

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Lohse, who surrendered one run on four hits in seven innings, kept alive his hopes of being in the postseason rotation. He has strung together two consecutive decent starts, and now the big challenge for him is to continue to make enough progress to build the Twins' trust heading into the postseason.

"It's the right time of year to put things together," Lohse said. "It's been a battle all year. I'd have it for a game, then I'd lose it. I'm trying to finish strong, and hopefully everybody will forget about it."

For Lohse (8-11), he hopes the first person to do that will be manager Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire missed his second consecutive game with a stomach virus Thursday but is expected to return to manage in tonight's game against Baltimore. What Lohse did Thursday should brighten Gardenhire's spirits.

Lohse approached White Sox hitters with the same aggressiveness that helped him win 14 and 13 games the past two seasons.

"That's my style--fastball-slider," Lohse said. "Aggressive. I've gotten into ruts where I'll try to trick too many guys instead of coming right at them. I'm getting back to it. I'm trying to get ready for the playoffs and trying to set myself up for the best possibility."

With Carlos Silva the favorite to be the No. 3 starter, Lohse is making a push to be fourth in the rotation. That is, of course, if Gardenhire, whose team could clinch the American League Central title this weekend, decides to deploy a four-man rotation in the divisional series. In all likelihood, that won't be determined until the opponent and schedule are determined.

Lohse and Anderson believe a big part of Lohse returning to his aggressive style can be attributed to veteran catcher Pat Borders. Borders, acquired in a trade from Seattle last month, has been behind the plate for Lohse's past three starts. Anderson thought it would be a good idea for Borders to work with Lohse, because neither player knew much about the other. Borders and Lohse had a long getting-to-know-your-style talk before their first game together Sept. 5 against Kansas City.

"A fresh start," said Lohse, whose locker is next to Borders' in the Metrodome clubhouse.

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Borders has seen quite a turnaround since Lohse lasted just 3" innings in a loss to the Royals.

"The last two games, I've seen him getting more and more confident," said Borders, who had two hits and drove in two runs. "And he should be."

As should the entire Twins team. They outscored the White Sox 26-4 in a series in which Minnesota expanded its divisional lead over second-place Chicago to 13 1⁄2; games.

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