CLEVELAND (AP) - Tough losses are becoming the norm for the Minnesota Twins.
Friday night was no exception.
Matt Capps gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Carlos Santana on the first pitch of the ninth inning, sending Minnesota to a 6-5 defeat, the Twins' 16th loss in their last 18 games.
``Cappy tried to get ahead of him on the first pitch,' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``He put a fastball over the middle of the plate and the kid killed it.'
Santana, batting for Lou Marson, drove the pitch from Capps (4-7) over the wall in right center for his 26th homer, giving Cleveland its 17th home win in its final at-bat.
Jim Thome went 3 for 4 with three RBIs, including a two-run homer, the 604th of his career, on a night he was honored in pregame ceremonies. The Twins traded Thome to the Indians on Aug. 25. Thome hit his 603rd home run on Sept. 16, at Target Field.
Twins starter Carl Pavano gave up all three hits to Thome. Chris Parmelee's two-run double in the first gave Minnesota the lead, but Thome lined a run-scoring double into the left-field corner, a two-out hit that got Cleveland within 2-1.
Parmelee's solo homer and a throwing error helped the Twins build a 4-2 lead in the third, but Thome's towering 425-foot shot to straightaway center tied it in the bottom half. Thome also reached on a checked-swing single that dribbled down the third base line in the fifth, which drew a laugh from Pavano.
``I kind of looked at him,' Pavano said. ``He already had a double and he almost hit one of out freaking Ohio. I gave up almost every kind of hit to him.'
``This is special night for sure,' Thome said. ``And coming against the Twins, well that team meant a lot to me, too. I want to thank them for giving me the chance to come back here. That's a great group of guys over there.'
Pavano gave up five runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings.
The Twins are headed for their first last-place finish since 2000. Minnesota, which has six games remaining, is four losses from its first 100-loss season since 1982.
Right fielder Michael Cuddyer was removed in the seventh inning with right groin tightness.
The Twins blew a golden chance to break it open in the fifth when Justin 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.
The Twins stranded 11 baserunners and were 3 for 14 with men in scoring position.
``We had plenty of chances,' Gardenhire said. ``When you keep putting people on base, you have to find a way to get them in.'
Chris Perez (4-7) pitched one perfect inning as Cleveland pulled out a dramatic win for Thome, who has said he will wait until the offseason to announce whether or not he wants to return for a 22nd season in 2012.
Matt 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.
Notes: The start of the game, already 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 Jason Kipnis of extra bases. ... It was Cleveland's 34th comeback win of the season. ... Minnesota will start lefties Brian Duensing (9-14) and Scott Diamond (1-5) in a day-night doubleheader Saturday. Cleveland counters with LHP David Huff (2-6) and RHP Mitch Talbot (2-6).
The Associated Press News Service
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