Thome's 587th homer wins it in 12th
Jim Thome gets a thrill out of pounding a baseball over a fence, especially to win a game. It's still there, after 20 seasons in the majors.
Thome connected in the 12th inning Saturday night for career homer No. 587, passing Hall of Famer Frank Robinson for eighth place on the career list and lifting the Minnesota Twins to a 1-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.
''It's kind of humbling and pretty neat,'' Thome said. ''We're trying to scratch out any kind of run and to see the ball go out of the park is pretty special.''
Thome hit a 2-0 pitch from Justin Germano (0-2) into the Indians bullpen in center field, snapping the Twins' 21-inning scoreless streak. It was the game's only extra-base hit.
''We got beat by one of the greatest home run hitters this game has ever seen,'' Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Thome returned to the lineup after missing two games with a mild abdominal strain and was 0 for 3 with a walk until hitting his fifth homer in his last four games. He had been 5 for 6 with four homers, a double, five walks and seven RBIs in his previous three games.
Matt Guerrier (4-7) worked out of a two-on, none-out jam in the 11th for the win, the Twins' seventh in eight games. Matt Capps got three outs for his 12th save in 14 chances since being acquired July 29 from Washington, where he had 26 saves.
''Just great pitching by both teams,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ''You can't pitch much better. It didn't look like we were going to score for 50 innings.''
Thome's homer was his 186th at Progressive Field, where he played from 1994 through 2002 for the Indians.
''I have more memories here than I can remember,'' Thome said. ''We had a lot of great players and great teams with postseason memories and great fans.''
The Twins signed Thome over the winter, hoping the 40-year-old could help them reach the playoffs. He is batting .278 with 23 homers and 53 RBIs in 97 games, a key reason why Minnesota has a six-game lead over Chicago in the AL Central despite missing slugger Justin Morneau for two months with a concussion.
''We watched Thome kill us for all those years, so it's nice to have him on our side killing somebody else,'' Gardenhire said. ''He's a Hall of Famer who gives us a huge presence.''
Thome's 57 homers against the Twins are second to the 63 he has hit against Detroit.
Twins starter Nick Blackburn held the Indians hitless for five innings. The right-hander allowed five hits over eight innings, walking two and striking out three.
Indians starter Carlos Carrasco gave up five hits over 7-1/3 innings, leaving after walking Denard Span in the eighth. Rafael Perez then got Orlando Hudson to hit into a double play, the third turned by Cleveland to end an inning.
Carrasco remained winless in three starts since being called up from Triple-A Columbus on Sept. 1. It was his eighth start for the Indians, who got him from Philadelphia as part of the July 2009 trade for Cliff Lee.
Cleveland nearly scored against Blackburn in the seventh. Travis Hafner singled and went to third on a hit-and-run single to right by Trevor Crowe. Jason Donald then put down a safety squeeze bunt — but was called out when plate umpire Brian Gorman ruled the ball bounced up and hit Donald in the hand for interference.
Hafner, who had slid home with the apparent first run, was sent back to third and Crowe back to first. Luis Valbuena then popped out to second base to end the threat.
Donald left with a bruised right hand and will be examined by a hand specialist Sunday.
''When he shook his hand (running to first), it looked like the ball hit him in front of home plate,'' Acta said. ''That's what I saw from the dugout and that's what the umpire saw. Actually, he was shaking his hand because the ball hit his hand (when he bunted it).''
After going 1-6 with a 9.88 ERA over nine starts June 1 to July 18, Blackburn was moved to the bullpen, then sent to Triple-A Rochester. In four starts since returning to the Twins' rotation, he is 2-1 with a 1.76 ERA.
NOTES: Rain delayed the start for 1 hour, 50 minutes. ... Three umpires worked the game when Angel Campos, scheduled to handle duties behind the plate, became ill before the start. Gorman moved from first base to the plate. Tony Randazzo and Paul Nauert worked the bases. ... Acta said RHP Justin Masterson will work out of the bullpen to close the season in order to limit his innings. ''He's got eight innings left and we'll try to use him in meaningful situations,'' Acta said. Masterson has pitched 166 innings in 28 games, all starts. ... Indians OF Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 12 games, tying Hafner for the longest by a Cleveland player this year.