Jones says goodbye to no-hitter

Jones says goodbye to no-hitter

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jacque Jones wasn't afraid to admit he was looking at the scoreboard.

Even as Johan Santana was superb for eight scoreless innings for the Twins, all Jones could see were zeros on his club's linescore. That's because they were being no-hit for seven innings by the White Sox's Freddy Garcia.

"All players would be lying if they said they didn't know a pitcher was throwing a no-hitter, whether it would be their team or the other team," Jones said. "You look up on that board, you know you don't have any hits. We knew that.

"I had never been part of a no-hitter. I didn't want that to happen, either."

Jones led off the bottom of the eighth inning. A 1-2 Garcia curveball was left over the plate.

Goodnight no-no.

Garcia's bid for history sailed over the center-field fence for a 423-foot home run. It was Minnesota's only hit, and only the fourth of the game, in a 1-0 victory during the series opener vs. Chicago.

"As soon as he hit it, I knew," said Garcia (11-6), who finished the game and was the first White Sox loser of a one-hitter since Richard Dotson on May 18, 1983. "He hit it good. I knew it was gone."

It was the first time the Twins were one-hit in a game since Baltimore's Mike Mussina did it to them Aug. 1, 2000. Minnesota won a previous one-hitter on Sept. 6, 1964, in a win over Boston.

Jones, who will be missing the rest of the series because his uncle recently passed away, rounded first base with his right fist in the air as the tension of 33,572 fans at the Metrodome released into a frenzied excitement. With the White Sox's AL Central lead over Minnesota shrinking from 16 1/2 games Aug. 11 to the current 9 1/2 games after Tuesday's win, the meaning of this series had already kicked up a few notches.

"It really was a playoff atmosphere out there," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose club is 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the Wild Card spot. "I'm sweating, and it wasn't even that hot."

Gardenhire had plenty of reason to perspire a little. As Santana and Garcia swapped scoreless innings, every pitch and every play seemed to have more and more meaning.

"When you have a game like that, you know it's only going to take one mistake," said Santana, who is 6-1 with a 1.57 ERA since the All-Star break.

With his changeup diving and extremely effective to help him notch seven strikeouts, Santana (13-6) was every bit of Garcia's equal. He allowed only two hits through seven innings -- both were by Pablo Ozuna. At one point, the lefty retired 13 batters in a row, 15 of his final 16, and had everyone wondering who would blink first.

"He wasn't giving up anything," center fielder Lew Ford said. "No matter how good the other pitcher is pitching, he gives us a chance to win. Garcia did pitch well tonight. Santana did not make any mistakes. He didn't let anyone score. He pitched a great game."

Fortunately for both pitchers, they had outfielders willing to go through a wall for them.

On Paul Konerko's drive with a runner on first in the top of fourth, Twins left fielder Shannon Stewart slammed his left shoulder into the fence making a leaping catch that saved extra bases and a potential run.

Stewart spent a few moments getting looked at by the trainer before leaving the game with a strained left shoulder. He was taken for X-rays and will be re-evaluated Wednesday.

In the sixth with a runner on third base and two outs, Chicago right fielder Jermaine Dye mimicked Stewart by slamming his shoulder into the baggie wall on Nick Punto's deep fly ball.

After Santana allowed his third hit of the game -- Geoff Blum's two-out single in the top of the eighth -- Ford made a spectacular run, catch and crash into the center-field fence on Ozuna's drive. It saved Santana and the game.

"We're going to do that every day, play out there with intensity," Ford said. "We still feel like we have a chance to make the playoffs -- we're not going to hold back."

In the bottom of the eighth, Jones didn't hold back, either.

"I just saw the ball and was like, 'Yeah, that's what we want to see,'" Santana said. "That's what you and I believe, every fan out there, was waiting for. It seems that was the way this game was going to end up. Fortunately it was for us, and we won this game."

With fans on their feet for the top of the ninth, Joe Nathan walked a batter and struck out two for his 32nd save.

"When I was out there in the ninth, it was definitely the loudest I've heard it here," Nathan said.

The game marked the eighth win in the Twins' last nine games, the the White Sox's eighth loss in their last nine games.

Since the beginning of their three-year reign as American League Central champions, the Twins have had a history of one-upping Chicago in big second-half games. They are 25-10 in post All-Star break meetings against their archrival, going back to 2002.

And now they've one-upped Chicago again, literally.

"It's not over yet. There's a long way to go," Santana said. "You feel like every time you play these games, you have to do it. You have no tomorrow. That's the way it is. You have to do it, no matter what."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.