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Twins put on walking shoes to beat Sox

Hunter draws bases-loaded walk in bottom of ninth

By La Velle E. Neal III

McClatchy Newspapers

MINNEAPOLIS — Scores can be deceiving. You can look at the crooked numbers on the board and be fooled into thinking the runs came by way of the long ball or line drive or some other powerful feat.

Check out the Twins’ 7-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night. The Twins won in the bottom of the ninth on a walk, error, infield single and a W.O.W. — walk-off walk — by Torii Hunter that gave them their fourth consecutive victory and seventh in their past eight games.

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The Twins scored seven runs on seven hits but walked a whopping eight times, five off Chicago starter Jon Garland. They scored runs without crushing the ball, and finished up a 5-1 homestand during which they hit .306 and averaged seven runs a game. Their only loss was in 13 innings to Toronto on Saturday.

"Guys start getting confident and that’s what happens," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We talk about it all the time. We talk about working the counts. But it comes, obviously, from a confident group and this group is feeling good about itself offensively."

Righthander Scott Baker’s struggles put the Twins in a 6-1 hole, but they walked three times during a three-run third inning and scored two runs in the sixth to tie it up.

"When we’re going good, we win those types of games," catcher Mike Redmond said.

The latest came against the scatter-armed White Sox bullpen in the ninth.

With Mike MacDougal on the mound and out out, Jason Tyner walked. Nick Punto grounded to first base, but both runners were safe on White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko’s throw to second glanced off Tyner.

Then Michael Cuddyer was credited with an infield single when shortstop Alex Cintron fielded his grounder but threw too late to second to force out Punto.

The bases were loaded — and the ball hadn’t left the infield.

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MacDougal was lifted for lefthander Boone Logan, who got Justin Morneau to pop out behind home plate. Righthander David Aardsma came in to face Hunter.

Ball one. Ball two. Ball three.

"When it was 3-0, I wanted the green light," Hunter said with a laugh. "I don’t want to walk. They (coaches) shut me down."

Redmond’s eyes rolled when Hunter’s comment was relayed to him.

"Oh geez," he said. "We were on the bench going, ‘Take! Take! Make him throw a strike!"’

Aardsma never did, walking Hunter to end the game. The Twins outscored Chicago 26-12 in the series while passing them for third place in the American League Central.

"There’s no doubt they outplayed us," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.

"We looked like Little Leaguers over there. It’s embarrassing to come out and play games like that. It was a pathetic week. This ballclub better look themselves in the mirror and think about what they’re going to do."

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The Twins, meanwhile, were learning how to celebrate a W.O.W.

"You still get to whack a guy in the head," Morneau said.

Who?

"Both of them," he said. "The guy who scores first, then you go out and well, you don’t want to hit Torii too hard. He may hit you back."

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