White Sox smiling in defeat

They might have lost the game on Sunday night, but it scarcely mattered, as Chicago White Sox won the American League Central Division anyway.

They might have lost the game on Sunday night, but it scarcely mattered, as Chicago White Sox won the American League Central Division anyway.

As Matt Lawton circled the bases following a 10th-inning home run that gave Minnesota Twins a 6-5 victory, the White Sox poured out of their dug-out to celebrate their first divisional title since 1993. The odd sight of both teams on the field celebrating was made possible by the Cleveland Indians' defeat in Kansas City.

The White Sox have carved out the best record in the American League (93 wins and 62 defeats) and now have to win only three more games to secure home-field advantage throughout the post-season.

"It's a good feeling when you have 10 million people telling you that you can't do something and you go out and do it anyway," the White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said.

Chicago had more good news from the performance of Sunday's starting pitcher Sean Lowe, who allowed only a single and a walk over six scoreless innings. With Cal Eldred and James Baldwin injured, Lowe could find himself in the post-season rotation. On the minus side of the equation, the White Sox relievers squandered a 5-0 seventh-inning lead.

In the National League, where St Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants have already won their divisions, Atlanta Braves - who are guaranteed at least a wild card following Saturday's 10-0 rout of Montreal Expos - followed that up on Sunday with 21 hits in a 14-5 victory over the Expos that means they need only four more wins to take NL East for an improbable ninth straight year.

Their September slump behind them, New York Mets are one step away from the play-offs. Todd Zeile and Timo Perez hit home runs as they beat Philadelphia 3-2, a win which means they can do no worse than tie for the NL wild card place.

Attempting to make the play-offs for the second straight year, the Mets are six games ahead of Arizona and Los Angeles and need one more win - or a Diamondbacks and Dodgers defeat - to ensure post-season play.

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