MINNEAPOLIS -- The last thing the Twins wanted to do on Saturday night was waste a strong effort by the injury-plagued Brad Radke, who seems to be doing everything in his power to help carry the club to the postseason. Call it an unaccomplished mission. The Twins' usually unflappable defense suddenly disappeared and the club couldn't find a way to get to White Sox starter Jon Garland as the Twins lost to Chicago, 4-1, before a sellout crowd of 46,210 at the Metrodome.
"It's a bit frustrating tonight," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We don't give too many games away, but tonight we just didn't make enough plays." Radke proved why he still seems to be the pitcher with the most respect on the staff, as he found a way to limit the tough White Sox club to just three runs, only one earned, on six hits while striking out six. But the defense's inability to make the key plays behind him early cost Radke runs and valuable innings. The first real sign of trouble came after Radke (12-9) recorded two consecutive groundouts to start the first inning. It looked like it would be a quick 1-2-3 inning for the right-hander when Jim Thome skied a ball to shallow right field that almost touched the roof of the Metrodome. But with the roof still lit up a bit due to the game being at 6 p.m., three Twins were unable to locate the ball and it dropped, turning into a double. "If three guys couldn't find the ball, that's how high he hit it and how bad it is at the top of that dome," Torii Hunter said. "We couldn't see anything. Nobody saw it until it was coming down. We felt bad, but it's the nature of the dome." They would feel even worse when Paul Konerko then hit a grounder to shortstop Jason Bartlett, who missed with his throw to first, allowing Thome to score for a 1-0 game. Radke wasn't helped in the second inning, either, as a single by Joe Crede was followed by another defensive error, this one by third baseman Nick Punto, to put two runners on base. After a fielder's choice by Juan Uribe, Scott Podsednik delivered a bloop single to right that scored the second unearned run of the night off Radke. Between the two errors in the first two innings, Radke was forced to throw an extra 25-30 pitches that likely shortened his outing by at least two innings, as he was limited to just five total innings. He gave up his only earned run in the fourth on a solo homer by Rob Mackowiak. "Brad pitched so well, and we'd still be playing that game, probably, if we didn't play so bad defensively," Punto said. "He should have got out of there with a no-decision. He pitched great again. He's pitching great for us right now." The Twins' night of miscues wasn't over, as the final run of the game came when the bullpen gave up its first run in 14 1/3 innings in the eighth. It came on a single by A.J. Pierzynski to left field that also advanced Thome to third base with two outs in the inning. Pierzynski tried to go to second and the Twins appeared to have the perfect rundown play. But first baseman Justin Morneau was a little deep, instead of being in front of the bag, and missed the tag on Pierzynski to score the final run. Mistakes can happen, but for a team that has made two or more errors just 15 times this season, it was a crushing blow to have it happen in such a critical game. "Defense has been good for us, but today was just one of those days," Hunter said. "We got beat by something that we vow not to do." Oftentimes a club can overcome its own errors with some offense, but unfortunately for the Twins, theirs came on a night when Garland was dominant. The only run the Twins scored in the outing came courtesy of defensive miscues on the other side, as Jason Tyner led off the third inning with a single to second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, who recorded an error on the throw that allowed Tyner to advance to third. Two outs later, Punto delivered an RBI single to right that pulled the Twins to within one, 2-1. After Punto's single in the third, Garland (14-4) retired 14 consecutive batters as he pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing just the one unearned run on five hits. "That was the best I've seen Garland, ever," Hunter said. "He was hitting his spots. He didn't throw one pitch down the middle." While the Twins gave a lot of credit to Garland, they're keeping their heads up. "We've been playing so well, defensively," Radke said. "Now we just have to turn the page, keep our heads up and play a good game [Sunday]."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.