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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Twins avoid elimination, head to ALCS

OAKLAND (REUTERS) — A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning and Cristian Guzman had three hits, as the Minnesota Twins defeated the Oakland Athletics 5-4 Sunday, winning the American League Divisional Series in five games.

Heavy underdogs in the series, the contraction-targeted Twins now advance to face the Anaheim Angels in the opening game of the best-of-seven American League Championship Series Tuesday night in Minneapolis.

“Nobody said it would be easy, and it wasn’t. Nobody gave us a chance, but we’re still here,” Pierzynski said.

“This has been a dream come true. The only way it would be better would be for us to go to the World Series.”

Minnesota trailed the best-of-five series two games to one heading into Game Four, but a convincing 11-2 win in Minneapolis set up Sunday’s deciding game.

The Twins managed enough timely hits and strong pitching to pull out the win in the tension-filled finale, sending Oakland to its third consecutive fifth-game loss in the playoffs in as many years.

Minnesota led 2-1 after eight innings before scoring three runs in the top of the ninth to take a 5-1 lead.

But the A’s rallied for three runs of their own in the bottom of the ninth inning on a three-run homer by Mark Ellis before falling just short of a remarkable comeback.

The Twins opened the scoring in the second inning on a run-scoring single by Denny Hocking, and they made it 2-0 in the third on another RBI single by Matthew LeCroy.

But the Athletics got one run back in the third on a solo home run by Ray Durham, the lone run allowed by Minnesota starter Brad Radke.

Minnesota nursed that one-run lead until the ninth, when Pierzynski belted his homer to deep right field off Oakland closer Billy Koch, just under the scoreboard, to put the Twins ahead by three.

David Ortiz doubled in another run later in the inning to make the score 5-1.

Radke went six-and-two-thirds innings, allowing six hits while striking out four and walking none in a strong performance.

J.C. Romero tossed a scoreless inning before LaTroy Hawkins got the final out of the eighth inning, setting the stage for Eddie Guardado’s nervous save.

Guardado got the final three outs in the ninth inning, setting off a wild celebration by the Twins on the field in front of a stunned crowd at Network Associates Coliseum, but not before some nervous moments.

An infield single by Eric Chavez and a double by Jermaine Dye set the stage for Ellis’s three-run homer that brought the score to 5-4.

With two out, Randy Velarde singled, bringing the winning run to the plate, but Durham popped up to first base to end the game.

Oakland starter Mark Mulder contributed to the loss, allowing two runs on nine hits with nine strikeouts and one walk over seven innings.

Chad Bradford tossed a scoreless eighth inning, but Koch was nailed for three runs on three hits in the ninth.

Cristian Guzman had three hits for the Twins, who had 12 hits total as a team.

LeCroy, Mike Cuddyer and Hocking all added two hits for the Twins.

Durham had three hits for the Athletics, while Eric Chavez added a pair of hits.

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