CLEVELAND (AP) - Jim Thome still wants to play, even if it isn't at third base for the Cleveland Indians.
The 41-year-old slugger played the position for one pitch - and for the first time in 15 years - during a 6-4 loss in 10 innings to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
Rene Tosoni led off the 10th with a home run as Minnesota spoiled what could have been Thome's last appearance at Progressive Field.
``I wouldn't read anything into it,' Thome said of playing third for the first time since September 1996. ``It was a nice gesture. It was fun.'
Thome, eighth on the career home run list with 604, has not announced whether he will try to return for a 22nd major league season in 2012 - but he gave a hint as to what's in his heart.
``I still love to play,' he said. ``I still want to play. The percentage is higher of my coming back than not.'
The Indians could not come back to win one for the big, burly country boy nicknamed ``The Thomenator' by Cleveland fans.
Tosoni hit his fourth homer on a 1-1 pitch from Tony Sipp (6-3) and Chris Parmelee added an RBI single later in the 10th to give Kyle Waldrop (1-0) his first career win.
Waldrop worked a scoreless ninth and Joe Nathan pitched the bottom half for his 10th consecutive save and 14th in 17 chances overall. The Twins have 98 losses with three games left and cannot tie the 1982 club for the worst record (60-102) since the franchise moved to Minnesota 50 years ago.
Cleveland had a four-game winning streak snapped. The Indians finished 44-37 at home.
Thome got a standing ovation as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. When he walked, the crowd booed Twins pitcher Glen Perkins. Moments later, it cheered with surprise as Thome went to third - where he started his career in 1991. He had not played there since Sept. 29, 1996.
The next year, he moved to first base and after 2002 played for four teams, including the Twins, until returning to Cleveland last month. He has been strictly a designated hitter or pinch-hitter since getting into one game at first base in 2007 for the Chicago White Sox.
``Him going out to third, I could see a smile on his face from ear to ear,' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``That's what the game's all about, that's when you have fun.'
Indians manager Manny Acta said he told Thome of his plan before the game.
``I thought that if this is the end, at least with our team, he should end where he started,' Acta said.
Thome had to borrow Jack Hannahan's glove and said he was ready if a Twins batter lined a shot his way.
``I'd have made the play,' Thome said. ``It felt good to go out there.'
Thome pinch-hit for Shelley Duncan, who had a two-run homer earlier. Duncan said he was honored to be replaced, even though he is on a hot streak with seven homers and 22 RBIs in September.
``It was fun,' Duncan said. ``And if the pitcher gave him something to hit, he could have done some damage.'
Minnesota took a 2-0 lead in the first on a run-scoring single by Ben Revere and a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia.
Lonnie Chisenhall's two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded tied it in the bottom half and Duncan connected off Twins starter Liam Hendriks for a 4-2 lead in the third. That gave Duncan eight RBIs in the past three games against the Twins.
Denard Span tripled in the fifth and scored on a groundout by Revere to get Minnesota within 4-3.
Trevor Plouffe tied it with his eighth homer, a 425-foot shot into the left-field bleachers in the sixth.
Hendriks gave up four runs and seven hits over six innings. He is 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA since being called up Sept. 6.
Indians starter Fausto Carmona yielded four runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings.
NOTES: Indians 1B Matt LaPorta will go to Haiti in October for four days to help with ongoing relief efforts for victims of the devastating earthquake there in 2010. ... All Indians players and coaches were stationed at various entrances to the ballpark, greeting fans before the game and thanking them for their support. ... Cleveland's season attendance of 1,840,835 was an increase of 449,191 over 2010. ... Minnesota closes the season with three games at home against Kansas City. Right-handers Kevin Slowey (0-7), Anthony Swarzak (3-7) and Carl Pavano (8-13) are scheduled to pitch for the Twins. ... Cleveland will start three right-handers in its final series in Detroit: Ubaldo Jimenez (4-3), Jeanmar Gomez (5-2) and Zach McAllister (0-1).
The Associated Press News Service
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