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Gates' Granny Stuns ChiSox

Mike Morgan was more than willing to let Frank Thomas take a day off Sunday.

Morgan took a shutout into the ninth and Brent Gates hit his first career grand slam Sunday to lead the Minnesota Twins to a 6-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Thomas, who has looked nothing like the American League batting champion of 1997, asked for the day off and White Sox manager Jerry Manuel obliged.

"I'm taking strikes and swinging at balls. I'm not seeing the ball well at all," said Thomas, who was on deck in the ninth when the final out was made.

Thomas, a .330 career hitter, is batting just .272.

"Obviously, he's one of the best hitters in the business," Morgan said. "It's nice to see he wasn't in the lineup. But if he was, I'd go right at him."

Which is what Morgan (4-2) did over eight-plus innings. The journeyman right-hander was three outs away from his first shutout in nearly five years when Mike Caruso homered on his first pitch.

Morgan allowed four hits, walked two and struck out one. His last shutout came with the Cubs in 1993 against Colorado.

"I thought about it. He (Twins manager Tom Kelly) was going to give me a chance for a shutout," Morgan said. "First pitch and it's Bob Seger, `Turn the Page."'

"We were playing one inning at a time, one hitter at a time," Kelly said.

Magglio Ordonez and Chad Kreuter hit back-to-back singles in the Chicago third and Wil Cordero led off the fifth with a single for the only other hits off Morgan.

Dan Naulty replaced Morgan and loaded the bases with two outs on a pair of walks and a single. Hector Carrasco then got Ordonez on a comebacker for his first save since June 1995.

The other player missing from the lineup was Paul Molitor, who sustained a broken rib in Saturday night's game when he was hit by a pitch.

"That's a Hall of Famer right there," Morgan said of Molitor. "He's an inspiration. We'll see what we're made of with him gone."

Gates connected with two outs in the fourth inning for only his second homer this year and 21st of his career.

"I'm not a guy who is going to hit a lot of home runs," Gates said. "When they come, they come."

Jason Bere (3-7) allowed six runs and four hits in four innings as the White Sox lost for the fifth time in six games. Bere may be taken out of the rotation, manager Jerry Manuel said.

Gates doubled with one out in the first, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Ron Coomer.

With one out in the Twins fourth, Alex Ochoa singled and stole second. Todd Walker singled and Pat Meares hit a chopper to third baseman Robin Ventura who threw home to force Ochoa. But catcher Chad Kreuter couldn't hang onto the ball and Ochoa was safe.

One out later, Otis Nixon walked to load the bases and Gates followed with his first slam.

Notes: Molitor went home to Minnesota on Sunday after breaking a rib when he was hit by Matt Karchner's pitch Saturday night. He was expected to be sidelined three to six weeks. First baseman Scott Stahoviak was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake City. ... Thomas was expected to play first on Sunday to prepare for the interleague series at Pittsburgh but asked Manuel for the day off. ... White Sox veteran left-hander Tony Castillo, 35, was released prior to the game. He was 1-2 with an 8.00 ERA in 25 games. Right-handed pitcher Bob Howry, who was 1-2 with a team-high five saves and 3.41 ERA in 23 games at Triple-A Calgary, was recalled and made his major league debut in the fifth.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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