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Magical night, finish: Thome homers, Santana hits walk-off blast as Indians down Twins


CLEVELAND - Jim Thome is discovering he means even more to Cleveland than he realized.

Stunned by the Indians' pregame announcement of a plan to erect a statue at Progessive Field to honor their greatest slugger, Thome gave Cleveland fans one more memory.

So did Carlos Santana, whose pinch-hit homer leading off the bottom of the ninth beat the Minnesota Twins 6-5 Friday night.

"Just a magical night," Thome said. "I didn't know about the statue. That's surreal - as good as it gets. I'm speechless on that one."

Once again, the 41-year-old rendered Cleveland fans breathless, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a two-run homer, the 604th of his career. It extended his team record to 337.

"It takes a special player to do that on an emotional night when he is honored," manager Manny Acta said. "We wanted to win it badly for him."

Santana, batting for Lou Marson, drove the first pitch from Matt Capps (4-7) over the wall in right-center for his 27th homer, giving Cleveland its 17th home win in its final at-bat.

"Thome called it," Acta said. "He was standing right next to me and called it. Amazing."

Santana couldn't recall ever getting a pinch-hit homer and was delighted to deliver for Thome.

"This is special for me, too, because we won for such a great player," said Santana, who was 5 years old when Thome hit his first homer for Cleveland in 1991. "Seeing him hit his was even better."

Ron Gardenhire, who managed Thome in Minnesota the past two years until the Twins sent him back to Cleveland on Aug. 25, was a bit in awe.

"I have total respect for Mr. Thome," Gardenhire said. "The numbers are amazing, but that personality he has hasn't changed since the first time I met him until now. He's always been the friendliest, nicest guy in the world from the opposing side to having him on your team."

Chris Perez (4-7) pitched one perfect inning as Cleveland pulled out a dramatic win for Thome, who said he will wait until the offseason to decide if he wants to return for a 22nd season in 2012.

Fans sat through a steady rain to salute Thome before the game, then gave a rousing ovation his first time up. The cheers increased as he lined a run-scoring double into the left-field corner, a two-out hit that got Cleveland within 2-1.

Matt LaPorta, who had three hits for Cleveland, tied it at 2 with an RBI double in the second.

Chris Parmelee's two-run single in the first off Indians starter Justin Masterson gave the Twins a 2-0 lead.

Parmelee opened the Twins' third with his third homer. Minnesota made it 4-2 later in the inning with an unearned run on a throwing error by second baseman Jason Kipnis.

Thome's towering 425-foot shot to straightaway center tied it at 4 in the bottom half.

"I watched it go up and wanted to sort of get a snapshot of it in my mind," Indians reliever Chad Durbin said. "It's something I can remember my entire life.

"It started coming towards the bullpen and the guys were scrambling because they wanted to be the one to catch it. But it went a little to our right and past us. What a moment!"

LaPorta's RBI single in the sixth put Cleveland ahead 5-4, but Rene Tosoni's RBI double off Rafael Perez tied it again in the seventh.

The Twins, headed for their first last-place finish since 2000, have won just two of their last 18 games. They blew a chance to break it open in the fifth when Masterson walked two and hit a batter to load the bases. Joe Benson hit a one-hopper to Masterson, who turned it into a home-to-first double play before walking Drew Butera to reload the bases.

Reliever Frank Herrmann got Ben Revere to foul out, ending the threat.

Masterson tied a career-high with six walks and hit two in 4 2/3 innings, giving up three earned runs and five hits. Acta said the right-hander, who has worked 216 innings, will be shut down for the year.

"He's had a tremendous season, never hit a rough spot of more than one game," Acta said. "He has nothing to prove."

Twins starter Carl Pavano yielded five runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings, including a check-swing infield single by Thome.

"I gave up almost every kind of hit to him," Pavano said. "He already had a double and he almost hit one of out freaking Ohio. It certainly was Thome's night, wasn't it?"


The start, set back 15 minutes to 7:20 for the pregame salute to Thome, was delayed another 27 minutes by rain.

• Benson made a nice leaping catch at wall to rob Kipnis of extra bases.

• Twins RF Michael Cuddyer left in the seventh with a tight right groin.

• It was Cleveland's 34th comeback win this year.

• Minnesota has six games left and is four losses from its first 100-loss season since 1982.

• Kelly Shoppach had Cleveland's last walkoff pinch-hit homer, June 26, 2007, against Oakland.

• Santana's second walkoff of the year, followed his grand slam April 29 to beat Detroit.


• WHO: Cleveland vs. Minnesota

• TIME: 1:05 and 7:05

• WHERE: Progressive Field


Game 1: Huff (2-6, 4.20 ERA) vs. Duensing (9-14, 5.29)

Game 2: Talbot (2-6, 6.33 ERA) vs. Diamond (1-5, 4.81)

• TV/RADIO:  Game 1: SportsTime Ohio; WTAM 1100-AM

Game 2: SportsTime Ohio, Ch. 3; WTAM 1100-AM

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