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Santana takes bite out of Tigers

Twins close the gap in Central to 2 games

When Johan Santana starts at home, the Minnesota Twins are just about a sure thing. His latest gem has them breathing down Detroit's neck in the American League Central.

Santana struck out 11 and allowed only two hits in Minnesota's 12-1 victory over the Tigers yesterday, pitching into the seventh inning and pulling the Twins within two games of first-place Detroit.

The Twins haven't lost a Santana home start since Aug. 6, 2005, going 22-0 in that span. Santana (18-5) is 15-0 with a 1.92 ERA during that stretch and hasn't lost a game at all since the All-Star break.

Nick Punto had four hits and three RBIs and Torii Hunter had three hits and scored three runs for the Twins, who trailed the Tigers by 10 1/2 games just more than a month ago.

Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman (11-8) hasn't won in nine starts.

Indians 5, White Sox 2 -- Victor Martinez hit a tiebreaking homer in the ninth and C.C. Sabathia (11-9) allowed just four hits as Cleveland won at Chicago to split a four-game series.

The White Sox fell 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota in the AL wild-card race.

Martinez's solo shot put the Indians ahead, 3-2, after Chicago's Javier Vazquez pitched a strong seven innings.

Dodgers 9, Mets 1 -- Eric Stults, in his first major league start, limited host New York to two hits in six innings, and Kenny Lofton gave him an early lead with a three-run triple off Steve Trachsel (14-7) to power Los Angeles.

Nomar Garciaparra added a three-run homer and four RBIs for the Dodgers, who hold a 1 1/2-game lead over second-place San Diego in the NL West.

Padres 10, Giants 2 -- Brian Giles drove in four runs as visiting San Diego avoided a three-game sweep and increased its lead in the NL wild-card race to 2 1/2 games over Florida, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

Padres starter Woody Williams (8-5) doubled on the way to his third career three-hit game.

Marlins 3, Phillies 0 -- Dontrelle Willis (10-11) threw a three-hitter and struck out a career-high 12 in his first shutout of the season, carrying Florida past Philadelphia and earning a split of a four-game series in Miami between NL wild-card hopefuls.

Willis retired his last 13 batters and never allowed a runner to advance past second in his eighth career shutout.

Athletics 9, Devil Rays 7 -- Frank Thomas homered for the fifth consecutive game and drove in three runs to help AL West-leading Oakland top host Tampa Bay.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3 -- Jered Weaver (11-2) struck out Troy Glaus with the bases loaded to help preserve his 11th victory, and host Los Angeles took advantage of a first-inning injury to Toronto ace Roy Halladay to win at Anaheim, Calif.

Halladay departed with two outs and runners at first and third after Garret Anderson lined a single off his pitching elbow.

Reds 4, Pirates 2 -- Bronson Arroyo (13-9) pitched eight solid innings for his third straight win and Brandon Phillips drove in the go-ahead run to lift host Cincinnati, which closed to 4 1/2 games behind NL Central-leading St. Louis.

Yankees 9, Orioles 4 -- Derek Jeter extended his career-high hitting streak to 20 games, going 2 for 4 with a homer and four RBIs to lead New York at Baltimore.

Braves 2, Cubs 1 -- Lance Cormier (3-4) pitched seven solid innings and struck out a career-high 10, and Brian McCann doubled in the go-ahead run as Atlanta handed Chicago its ninth straight road loss.

Brewers 4, Astros 0 -- Dave Bush (11-10) pitched a five-hitter and struck out a season-high 10 in his third career shutout, leading host Milwaukee.

Rockies 13, Nationals 9 -- Todd Helton hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the seventh inning, Matt Holliday homered and drove in three runs, and host Colorado completed a season sweep of Washington.

Diamondbacks 9, Cardinals 7 -- Tony Clark and Eric Byrnes belted consecutive pitches from St. Louis reliever Jorge Sosa (3-11) for solo home runs in the eighth inning to lift host Arizona.

Rangers 4, Mariners 2 -- Michael Young had three hits and drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning to help visiting Texas end a three-game losing streak.

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