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Santana simply sensational

He sets Twins record with 17 strikeouts

A jubilant Johan Santana was finished after picking up his 17th and final strikeout against the Rangers. A jubilant Johan Santana was finished after picking up his 17th and final strikeout against the Rangers. (PAUL BATTAGLIA/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Johan Santana finished with a franchise-record 17 strikeouts in eight innings to lead the Minnesota Twins past the Texas Rangers, 1-0, yesterday in Minneapolis.

Santana's 17 strikeouts were the most in the majors since Ben Sheets fanned 18 in Milwaukee's 4-1 win over Atlanta May 16, 2004. He broke the Minnesota record of 15, accomplished four times -- the last by Bert Blyleven Aug. 1, 1986, against Oakland.

Santana (13-9) retired the first 12 batters he faced before Sammy Sosa led off the fifth with a single to left-center. Sosa also doubled with two outs in the seventh for the Rangers' only other hit.

Santana struck out six of the last seven batters he faced, fanning Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a 93-mile-per-hour fastball on his 112th and final pitch.

"I didn't try to do anything different. I was just trying to stay aggressive, get ahead in the count, and throw my fastball for strikes," Santana said.

Joe Nathan worked a scoreless ninth for his 27th save in 29 chances. He struck out Brad Wilkerson and Michael Young with a runner on second to finish the two-hitter.

Minnesota's 19 strikeouts were also a team record. The previous mark was 18, last reached May 22 at Texas, when Santana had 13.

Michael Cuddyer homered off Kevin Millwood (8-10) in the second. That was Millwood's only mistake -- he allowed four hits and struck out three in seven innings.

Yankees 9, Tigers 3 -- Johnny Damon hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth and Wilson Betemit (4) and Hideki Matsui (3) supplied seven more RBIs as host New York won its third in a row over Detroit.

Chien-Ming Wang (14-6) pitched out of trouble throughout his six innings, and rookies Joba Chamberlain and Edwar Ramirez combined for three perfect innings to finish New York's 15th win in 20 games.

Mariners 11, White Sox 5 -- Jose Guillen hit a two-run homer in the first to trigger Seattle's onslaught and finished with five RBIs as the Mariners wrapped up a three-game sweep of visiting Chicago.

Guillen also had a two-run single against White Sox starter Jon Garland (8-9), who was pounded for 10 hits and 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings. Felix Hernandez (9-6) cruised to his third straight win and the Mariners maintained their half-game lead over the Yankees in the wild-card race.

Braves 6, Diamondbacks 2 -- John Smoltz became the Braves' career strikeout leader, fanning 12 over eight innings, and Mark Teixeira went deep twice and drove in four runs in Atlanta.

Smoltz (11-6) gave up only five hits and two runs as he surpassed Phil Niekro for the franchise lead with 2,920 strikeouts. The 40-year-old righthander has a 3.05 ERA overall but only two wins since June. His 12 K's were his most since fanning 15 Mets April 10, 2005.

Mets 8, Nationals 2 -- New York wrapped up a three-game sweep in Washington as Carlos Beltran socked a pair of homers and had four RBIs.

Orlando Hernandez (8-4) allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings to win his fourth straight decision. He did not allow a hit after Wily Mo Peña went deep in the fourth, his first homer for the Nationals since being acquired from the Red Sox.

Reds 7, Brewers 6 -- Pinch hitter Javier Valentin delivered bases-loaded, two-run double in the eighth, capping host Cincinnati's comeback from a 5-0 deficit.

Milwaukee hit four homers, including Prince Fielder's NL-leading 38th, but still lost for the sixth time in seven games.

Devil Rays 4, Indians 3 -- Joel Guzman hit a walkoff RBI single in the 12th, and Tampa Bay rallied from deficits of 2-0 in the seventh and 3-2 in the 10th to hand AL Central-leading Cleveland a stinging loss.

Blue Jays 3, Orioles 2 -- Aaron Hill's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th picked up Toronto and gave Baltimore its 24th one-run loss, most in the AL.

Athletics 6, Royals 1 -- Marco Scutaro and Dan Johnson went deep in support of Lenny DiNardo (8-6), who pitched a career-best eight innings and deprived Kansas City of its first three-game sweep in Oakland since June 1988.

Padres 5, Astros 3 -- Greg Maddux (9-9) held visiting Houston to two hits in six innings, winning consecutive starts for the first time this season and tying Tim Keefe for ninth on the all-time list with 342 wins.

Pirates 8, Phillies 4 -- Matt Kata's pinch-hit, three-run double and Freddy Sanchez's go-ahead RBI double highlighted host Pittsburgh's seven-run seventh.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 3 -- Ramon Martinez hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the eighth as Los Angeles rallied at home.

Giants 6, Marlins 5 -- At Miami, Ray Durham and Kevin Frandsen homered for San Francisco, which scored three times off a trio of seventh-inning errors by Florida.

Last night's Cardinals-Cubs game in Chicago was postponed following a 1-hour-48-minute rain delay in the bottom of the third with the score 0-0. A makeup date was not immediately announced.