MINNEAPOLIS -- Johan Santana isn't just winning games these days. He's changing them.
Santana (4-3) scattered five hits and struck out at least one batter in all seven of his innings to win his fourth straight start.
"He's a handful because he knows how to pitch," White Sox slugger Jim Thome said. "When he's on the mound, he changes the whole complexion of the game."
Justin Morneau, Tony Batista and Joe Mauer homered for the Twins, who roughed up Jon Garland for their third straight win and fifth in six games as they try to climb out of a big hole left by a 9-15 April.
Garland (2-2) was shaky for the White Sox, giving up seven runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings, proving no match for Santana, who has been simply outstanding in May.
The left-hander reached double-digit strikeouts for the third time in four starts and 26th time in his career. He has allowed just four runs in three starts this month.
"He was as good as you can do it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He kept them off balance and kept attacking them."
Starting the evening 8 1/2 games behind the defending World Series champs in the AL Central, the Twins needed Santana at his best.
An awful April included a three-game sweep at the hands of the White Sox in Chicago in which they were outscored 23-6. Even more trouble followed with a three-game sweep in Detroit where the final tally was 33-1.
"These guys kicked our butts at their place," Torii Hunter said. "You don't forget that."
The last time Santana lost a game, it was at Chicago against Mark Buehrle. Santana left in the seventh trailing 2-1 in a game the Twins lost 7-1.
That dropped Santana's record to 0-3, but he has regained his All-Star form in May, going 3-0 to get above .500 for the first time this season. And facing the struggling Garland, who hasn't won since April 18, it was no contest.
"It has a little to do with confidence," Garland said. "I don't care who are, you're going to press a little bit when things aren't going your way. The best way to get over that is to pitch a good ballgame. I need to do that to get back on track."
Garland wasn't hit particularly hard Friday night. Morneau's two-run homer in the second was almost taken away by a leaping Brian Anderson in center field, and Batista's solo shot leading off the sixth just reached the seats in left to give the Twins a 6-0 lead.
The Twins scored three runs in the fourth on five hits, all soft singles that dropped in front of Chicago's outfielders.
"He threw the ball better than it showed on the scoreboard," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That's what I go by."
With the big cushion, and no no-hitter to worry about, Santana kept one of the league's most potent offenses at bay.
Santana took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning during his last start against Detroit. But Pablo Ozuna led off the game with a shot to right-center. Ozuna was cut down trying to stretch the double into a triple, thanks to a perfect relay from right fielder Michael Cuddyer to second baseman Castillo to Batista at third.
The only thing Santana had to worry about was staying loose during a long fourth inning in which the Twins sent eight batters to the plate.
"We'll take that," he said with a smile. "If I have to do that every single inning, I'll take that."
The White Sox can hardly be worried about one loss. They still hold the majors' best record at 23-11, though the Tigers are nipping at their heels just 1 1/2 games back after a 5-4 victory over Cleveland on Friday night.
"Everyone's going to play tough against us," Guillen said. "Not just because we won last year, but because we're in first place."
- Cuddyer was a little woozy in the second when he was hit in the head by a pickoff attempt by Garland at second base. Gardenhire came out to check on Cuddyer, but he remained in the game.
- Ozuna extended his hitting streak to a career-high eight games.
- Chicago C A.J. Pierzynski hit 18 homers in 2005, but is homerless in his last 53 games.