Twins' magic number still remains at three


CLEVELAND (AP) -- The magic number is frozen. Pretty soon, the
champagne could be, too.

The Cleveland Indians, in no rush to surrender their division title, stalled Minnesota's eventual clinching again with a 12-5 rout of the Twins on Friday night.

Terry Mulholland took a shutout into the seventh inning, and Jim Thome and Karim Garcia hit three-run homers for the defending AL Central champions, who blasted Eric Milton (13-9) for nine runs in the first two innings.

Travis Fryman homered as the Indians delayed a party the Twins can't wait to get started.

"You know, I think we'd rather they do that somewhere else,'' Mulholland said.

Minnesota arrived in Cleveland with a magic number of three. The
Twins then brought in 10 cases of champagne in anticipation of
celebrating their first playoff appearance since 1991.

It's still on ice.

"I wish them luck,'' Garcia said. "They've had a good season, but not in our place.''

Matt LeCroy hit a pair of two-run homers for the Twins, who
haven't played like champions in the first two games of the series.

Could they be a little tight with the division title so close?

"I don't think so,'' LeCroy said. "We've got some more time to get it done.''

"We'll call this a mulligan and leave it at that,'' manager Ron
Gardenhire said. "Tonight, we just got whacked. Right now, we
might be a little too wired up.''

The Indians, who won the series opener 5-4 on Thursday, scored
five runs in the first and four more in the second off Milton, who
gave up nine runs and eight hits in 1 2/3 innings -- matching the shortest outing of his career.

Milton, who tore cartilage in his knee while warming up in the
bullpen last month, hasn't been sharp since returning from the
disabled list on Sept. 2.

"Milty says he's fine,'' Gardenhire said. "It's a mechanical thing. Once he gets the ball down in the zone, he'll be fine.''

Milton dropped to 0-3 against the Indians this season, allowing
23 runs in 11 2-3 innings.

Spotted the big lead, Mulholland (3-1), making his first start
with the Indians at Jacobs Field since coming over in a trade from
Los Angeles, had little trouble with the Twins.

The left-hander entered the seventh with a four-hitter before
giving up a single and LeCroy's two-run homer. The win was
Mulholland's first as a starter since July 8, 2000, when was with

"That was fun,'' he said.

Mulholland got some defensive help in the third on a spectacular
play from second baseman John McDonald.

As McDonald made a diving stop up the middle, he flipped the
ball with his glove to shortstop Omar Vizquel, who stepped on
second and threw to first for a double play.

Thome followed an RBI single by Ellis Burks in the first with
his 45th homer, a towering shot into the Twins' bullpen in right,
to make it 4-0.

One out later, Fryman lined his 10th homer -- and first since
Aug. 17 -- into the seats in left-center.

"They hit everything Eric threw up there,'' said Wells, who was
touched for three runs in the sixth.

The Indians opened the second with two singles before left
fielder Jacque Jones saved at least one run with a diving catch on
Omar Vizquel's sinking liner.

Milton was done moments later, however. Thome hit an RBI single
and Garcia followed with his 13th homer, sending Milton to the
locker room to ice his left arm not far from where the Twins'
champagne is chilling.

Garcia entered with more RBI than anyone in the majors since Aug. 6, and now has 13 homers and 47 RBI in just 37 games since being re-signed by the Indians.

Cleveland added three runs in the sixth off Bob Wells.

LeCroy hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Jaret Wright and Jones hit a solo shot.

Game notes
Rookie Alex Herrera made his major league debut in the eighth, becoming the 56th player used by the Indians this season -- a club record. Cleveland used 55 players in 2000. ... With his
homer, Thome moved past Hal Trosky on the club's career RBIs list.
Thome's 914 RBI trail only Nap Lajoie (919) and Earl Averill
(1,084) in Indians history. ... Milton also lasted just 1 2-3
innings on Aug. 21, 1998, against Boston ... Twins OF Torii Hunter
sat out after straining a muscle in his rear end in Thursday's
game. ... Wright made his first career relief appearance after 96
major league starts. ... Thome has reached base safely in 42
straight games.