MINNEAPOLIS -- With three losses in their last four games, the Minnesota Twins are facing the probability of a familiar scenario: starting the postseason at Yankee Stadium.
That left Detroit needing one win in its last two games, or a loss Sunday by Minnesota, to clinch the AL Central. The Tigers, who hosted the Kansas City Royals later Saturday, won the season series with the Twins 11-8 and will win the division if the teams tie.
"We had it in our hands, and it just got away," said rookie starter Matt Garza (3-6), who was roughed up in a four-run third when Chicago batted around.
Michael Cuddyer's three-run homer in the ninth was the end for Garland, but a sellout crowd of 46,219, the biggest since the home opener, left disappointed. The attendance total gave Major League Baseball a single-season record for the third straight year.
The loss pushed the Twins closer to entering the playoffs as the wild card, which means a first-round matchup with New York -- just like in 2003 and 2004. The Yankees won both of those series.
"Doesn't matter if it's five games, seven games. You've still got to beat them," Cuddyer said. "That's what it boils down to. Can't pick and choose, so there's no reason to even really worry about that."
Tadahito Iguchi had a homer among his three hits and three RBI, Ross Gload tripled, doubled and singled and Rob Mackowiak had two hits and drove in a run. Every starter except Brian Anderson got a hit.
"It means more to me to go out there and give my team a chance," said Garland (18-7), who kept the ball down and kept Minnesota's batters off-balance -- rebounding from a pair of poor outings.
Garland was terrible over the first 2½ months of the season, but he bounced back from that, too, and posted a 3.61 ERA in the second half. He gave up six hits and two earned runs without a walk while striking out four in 8 1/3 innings.
"Get healthy, get strong, come back next year and see what happens," Garland said.
The 11:10 a.m. local start time was assigned to give Metrodome workers time to configure the field and lower-level seats for a college football game between Minnesota sixth-ranked Michigan at 7 p.m.
Garland made sure there was no conflict, mowing through the Twins' lineup and allowing only two runners past first base. Jason Tyner started the sixth inning with a single, moved up on bunts by Jason Bartlett and Nick Punto but was stuck there when Luis Rodriguez struck out.
The defending World Series champions are only 33-40 after the All-Star break, which led to their elimination earlier this week. With a second straight victory here, the White Sox did ruin another important game for one of their rivals - and improve their record to 90-71. This marked the first time they've won 90 or more games in consecutive seasons since 1963-65.
"Ninety wins is better than 89. It looks better," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't get paid to win 90 games. I get paid to win the pennant."
Due to the early start a day after a night game, Guillen sat six regulars -- Joe Crede, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Jim Thome and Juan Uribe -- who have a staggering 188 homers between them.
For the same reason, Minnesota's Joe Mauer was given a rest, which also preserved his league-leading average at .346. New York's Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter were four and five points behind him when the day began, the only challengers between Mauer and the first batting title won by a catcher in AL history.
The White Sox subs didn't let up on Garza, who is being considered for the fourth spot in the postseason rotation with Carlos Silva.
After stranding runners at second and third in each of the first two innings, Garza got hammered in the third. Gload doubled, Josh Fields walked, Mackowiak doubled in a run, Iguchi singled in two and Alex Cintron singled before Ryan Sweeney's RBI groundout.
Garza lasted only 2 2/3 innings, surrendering eight hits, four runs and two walks. He struck out three. Matt Guerrier gave up an RBI single to Sweeney in the fifth and a towering solo shot to Iguchi in the seventh, rendering Cuddyer's homer too little, too late.
- Rodriguez again played second base for Luis Castillo, who has missed the last four games with a sore knee.
- Home plate umpire and crew chief Jerry Crawford left the game briefly because of a back problem, but he came back and called third base.
- The White Sox lead the majors in batting with runners in scoring position, at .309.