Final in 15

Series: Game 3 of 3

Minnesota won 3-0

Game 1: Tuesday, June 8
NY Mets1Final
Game 2: Wednesday, June 9
NY Mets3Final
Game 3: Thursday, June 10
NY Mets2Final
in 15

Mets 2

(28-31, 13-18 away)

Twins 3

(33-26, 20-12 home)

    8:10 PM ET, June 10, 2004

    Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

    56789101112131415 R H E
    NYM 00000000000 2 8 0
    MIN 00001000001 3 12 0

    W: G. Balfour (1-0)

    L: R. Bottalico (2-1)

    Ryan's RBI hit does it for Minnesota

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A big reason the Minnesota Twins are in the running for a third straight division title is that everyone on the roster contributes.

    Sure enough, they rode their bullpen and their bench to a wild 15-inning victory on Thursday night.

    Reserve outfielder Michael Ryan's one-out single gave the Twins a 3-2 win and a three-game sweep over the New York Mets.

    "How about that?" said Joe Roa, one of five Minnesota relievers who teamed to pitch eight scoreless innings.

    Luis Rivas beat out an infield single with one out in the 15th off Ricky Bottalico (2-1), and Cristian Guzman moved him to third with single. Ryan hit the first pitch of his at-bat to end it, and right fielder Karim Garcia kicked the ball in frustration.

    "Just looking for something up," said Ryan, who saw Bottalico throw a first-pitch changeup to Guzman and was ready for the same thing.

    The Mets were one out from winning, but pinch-hitter Jose Offerman hit a tying double in the ninth off closer Braden Looper to spoil a strong outing by starter Matt Ginter.

    "We had it in our back pocket," New York manager Art Howe said.

    Both teams had several chances in extra innings, and the Mets wasted a great one in the 11th when Joe Nathan walked three -- one intentionally. But Garcia struck out, giving his team a .109 average (6-for-55) with the bases loaded this year.

    "We couldn't put it in play when we had to," Howe said.

    Cliff Floyd hit a home run and an RBI double for the Mets, who got five hits, two runs and a walk off Twins starter Kyle Lohse in seven innings -- his longest outing of the season.

    Lohse, who struck out three, failed to win consecutive starts for the first time this year as the Twins again struggled to score.

    But over the next couple hours, they showed why they're once again a contender.

    Relievers Aaron Fultz, Juan Rincon, Nathan, Roa and winner Grant Balfour (1-0) allowed only three hits while striking out 10.

    Ryan and Offerman, two of their least-used players, came up with clutch hits.

    And with New York's Shane Spencer on second and one out in the 15th, Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter tracked down consecutive flies on the warning track with long, running catches.

    "I felt like I was going to pass out," Hunter said.

    Looper blew his second save of the year when Matthew LeCroy singled with two outs and Offerman drove him in with a double to the wall in left-center field.

    "I wish I could have had that one back," Looper said.

    The burly LeCroy chugged around third as center fielder Mike Cameron, a two-time Gold Glove winner, overthrew two cut-off men and the ball trickled into the infield.

    "I know I can't run," LeCroy said, "but I'm going to try as hard as I can."

    He was the only catcher left, so the Twins couldn't pinch-run for him. LeCroy smiled, upon realizing that, and cracked a joke to Mets first baseman Todd Zeile.

    "I told Zeile, 'I'll pick them up and put them down," LeCroy said. "He started laughing."

    The biggest disappointment for the Mets was Cameron's errant throw.

    "You've got to hit one of those two guys," Howe said.

    Ginter gave up five hits, one run and one walk in 7 2-3 innings -- striking out one in the longest outing of his career. He left with a 2-1 lead, watching his relievers nearly lose it in the eighth before doing so in the ninth.

    Acquired from the White Sox in a spring trade for outfielder Timo Perez, Ginter -- a marginal reliever for Chicago the past four seasons -- is 1-0 with a 2.43 ERA in six starts this year. He has allowed just three earned runs over his last 22 2-3 innings.

    "This poor guy," Howe said. "We haven't gotten it done for him."

    Game notes

    This was the Mets' longest game since Sept. 12, 1997, when they lost 3-2 in 15 innings to Montreal at Shea Stadium. ... Mets starters have a 2.20 ERA over their past 16 starts. New York has the best ERA in the majors. ... Guzman had an RBI single in the third. ... Twins starters have thrown at least seven innings in seven of their last nine outings. ... Mets RHP Scott Erickson, on a rehab assignment with a strained left hamstring, has made two starts for Triple-A Norfolk and will make one more before he's ready to be activated from the DL.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press