Indians 6, Twins 5

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 on 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?”

Notes: 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. … Minnesota will start LHPs Brian Duensing

(9-14) and Scott Diamond (1-5) in a day-night doubleheader

Saturday. Cleveland will use LHP David Huff (2-6) and RHP Mitch

Talbot (2-6).