He'll still take the Twins' position, though, one-half game in front of the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central after Glen Perkins pitched eight innings in a 9-0 victory over Los Angeles on Friday night.
"There's a long ways to go here. It's fun to be bouncing back and forth. I mean, it would be nicer to get up there where the Angels are and get a big lead, but all we can do is control our games and go out and play them and do the best we can," Gardenhire said.
"Hopefully we'll stay in this thing the whole way. That's what we plan on doing, and we'll go from there."
The win was the fourth straight and ninth in 11 games for the Twins, who were able to regain sole possession of first place because the White Sox lost 9-4 to Tampa Bay.
"Everybody's been talking about this road trip and how we don't play as well on the road as we do at home," Perkins said, alluding to the Twins' four-city, 14-game swing. "So to get off to a good start on this trip is definitely going to help us going forward into the next couple of series."
Despite losing for the seventh time in nine games, the Angels remained 15 games ahead of Texas in the AL West.
Perkins (11-3) struck out three and walked two on the way to winning his fourth consecutive decision. Dennys Reyes pitched the ninth to complete Minnesota's ninth shutout.
"Perkins was fantastic," Gardenhire said. "He used his changeup well, pitched on the inner half of the plate very well, and gave our guys a chance to get going offensively."
"Span and Delmon had a heck of a night driving the ball for us," Gardenhire said. "Delmon got a pitch out and over the plate and he crushed that ball. We've seen this guy do this a few times this year. He can flip a ball up in the stands with the best of them."
Saunders (14-6) allowed six runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. The first-time All-Star hasn't won since July 30, with three no-decisions and a loss over that stretch.
Despite the Angels' huge division lead, manager Mike Scioscia obviously isn't pleased by their recent play and held a clubhouse meeting after the loss.
Asked later about Perkins' performance, Scioscia said: "He pitched a good game, but it's more than just Perkins. It's been the way for us the last nine games. We've played terrific baseball for so long up to this point. We just have to get back into our game.
"This is not anything that's going to take a major overhaul. We just need a few tweaks here and there. Some guys are gripping the bat too tight, squeezing sawdust out of it. We just have to refocus and get back to playing the game."
Span, who had four RBI, made it 4-0 with two outs in the sixth with his third home run.
Young's two-run homer with two outs in the fourth gave Minnesota a 2-0 lead after both teams squandered early scoring chances. It was Young's eighth if the season.
Span's RBI single in the fifth built the lead to three runs.
- The Angels have been shut out six times.
- The Twins moved a season-high 20 games above .500 and their 42-19 record since June 13 is baseball's best.
- Span's four RBI tied a career high.
- Minnesota C Joe Mauer singled in the seventh to extend his career-high hitting streak to 14 games.