Twins 5, Indians 4

Jim Thome loves a good pennant race even more than his climb up

the home run list.

Thome hit a two-run shot for his 578th career homer and the

Minnesota Twins rallied to beat the Cleveland Indians 5-4 on

Sunday.

”It was a big win, giving us some momentum,” Thome said. ”The

homer gave us a lift. It means more to help us win in a pennant

race.”

Thome’s drive against his former team during Minnesota’s

five-run fifth inning off David Huff (2-11) helped the Twins take

two of three in the series and earn their 12th win in 16 games.

Minnesota pulled within a half-game of the AL Central-leading White

Sox heading into their key three-game set in Chicago starting

Tuesday night.

Brian Duensing (5-1) pitched a career-high 7 1-3 innings for the

Twins, yielding three earned runs and nine hits.

”We’re not scoreboard watching yet,” Duensing said.

First baseman Michael Cuddyer, who walked and scored on Thome’s

homer, praised Duensing for settling down after a rough start.

”He showed a lot of grit,” he said.

Matt Guerrier retired the two men he faced in the eighth and

Matt Capps worked a perfect ninth for his second save in three

tries since being acquired July 29 from Washington. Capps had 26

saves with the Nationals.

Thome, who hit a franchise-record 334 homers for Cleveland

before leaving as a free agent after the 2002 season, belted his

185th homer at Progressive Field. His 14th homer this year gave him

1,601 RBIs, passing former Indians player-manager and Baseball Hall

of Famer Napoleon Lajoie for 31st on the career list. He’s five

homers behind ninth-place Mark McGwire.

”It’s very special and humbling to be among those names,” said

Thome, who turns 40 on Aug. 27. ”I’d love to keep playing. Being

with Minnesota is great. A lot of what I’ve done comes from having

great teammates everywhere I’ve gone.”

Fresh off the disabled list, Orlando Hudson added a tying

two-run double and eventually scored on Delmon Young’s infield out

to give the Twins a 5-4 lead.

Cleveland took a 3-0 lead in the first. Michael Brantley tripled

and scored on a one-out single by Shin-Soo Choo. One out later,

Matt LaPorta hit a drive into the left-field bleachers for his

seventh homer.

Trevor Crowe singled and scored on Lou Marson’s double-play

grounder in the second, making it 4-0.

”Duensing didn’t have it early,” Minnesota manager Ron

Gardenhire said. ”He floated a couple changeups in that first

inning, but hung in there. It was a gutty performance.”

Duensing retired 12 of his last 14 batters, striking out three

without a walk in his fourth start this year and 13th in 67 career

games. The left-hander moved into the rotation July 23, filling the

spot that opened when Nick Blackburn was sent back to the

minors.

Huff allowed five runs and six hits over 4 1-3 innings and

couldn’t explain why he got hit hard in the fifth.

”I don’t know what the deal was,” said Huff, who is 1-10 with

a 7.24 ERA in 13 starts since April 21. Optioned to Triple-A

Columbus on June 21, he went 6-0 for the Clippers and was recalled

Tuesday.

Manager Manny Acta had a strong opinion on the left-hander’s

struggles.

”David had no command at all of his fastball,” Acta said. ”He

pitched behind in the count the whole time. You can’t get away with

that at this level. They hit him hard.”

Hudson went 1 for 3 and committed a throwing error. Sidelined

since July 24 by a strained right oblique muscle, he was activated

before the game and reliever Anthony Slama optioned to Triple-A

Rochester.

Twins star Joe Mauer was 1 for 3 with a walk in his first start

at catcher since getting a cortisone shot for right shoulder

tendinitis July 31. The three-time batting champion and reigning AL

MVP stayed in the lineup as the DH and has hit .537 (22 for 41)

with 16 RBIs in his last 11 games.

NOTES: Twins 2B Alexi Casilla sat out with a sprained left

ankle. Casilla, hurt in a home-plate collision Saturday, said he

hopes to play in a few days. … Twins RHP Kevin Slowey did not

throw his scheduled bullpen session because of some elbow

tendinitis. He expects to take his regular rotation turn Tuesday.

… Cleveland signed its 13th-round pick in the June draft, RHP

Michael Goodnight of the University of Houston. The Indians have

signed 16 of their 50 picks, but none of their top five. …

Indians RHP Mitch Talbot, on the DL since July 30 with a strained

back, is scheduled to make a rehab start Monday at short-season

Mahoning Valley. … Cleveland has lost seven of its last nine home

games.