<
>

Nathan collects save after perilous 11th inning

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Before the next Minnesota-Cleveland series,
maybe the bitter rivals should be sent a different warning: Beware
of extra innings.

Shannon Stewart homered with two outs in the 11th inning off
David Riske to give the Minnesota Twins a 5-4 win over the Indians
on Thursday night and a split of their tight, four-game series.

Stewart ripped a 2-2 pitch from Riske (1-2) over the wall in
straightaway center field and into the empty picnic pavilion as the
Twins won the third straight extra-inning game between the AL
Central teams, whose history of on-field confrontations prompted an
advisory from Major League Baseball to behave themselves.

"Three straight extra-inning games?" said Twins center fielder
Torii Hunter. "I've never had that before, not even in the minor
leagues. It's amazing. Everyone got their money's worth -- fans,
players and owners."

Of the 10 games between the Twins and Indians this season, six
have been decided by one run and nine by three runs or less.

The Indians had not played extras against the same team in three
games in a row since Aug. 28-30, 1967, at Kansas City. The Twins
hadn't played three consecutive extra-inning games since 1977.

"Pretty crazy, pretty nuts," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire
said. "In the dugout, you're scratching your head trying to figure
out how to get through the game. It was mentally and physically
draining. We're happy to get the split and happy to get out of
town."

Jesse Crain (5-0) pitched the 10th and Joe Nathan worked a shaky
11th for his 14th save. Nathan, who blew his second save on
Wednesday night, gave up a two-out walk and single before getting
Jody Gerut to fly to right.

Minnesota's bullpen, which came in with a 2.59 ERA, shut out
Cleveland over the final five innings on four hits.

Gerut had three hits for Cleveland, which got 16 hits, including
at least one hit in every inning, but dropped to 7-13 in one-run
games.

Indians third baseman Aaron Boone made two fielding errors,
failed to bunt a runner over in the eighth and popped out on the
first pitch with a runner on in the 10th.

"Me, we have to do a better job of executing the little
things," said Boone, who was booed following his errors and
fruitless at-bats. "We've got to execute, period. We've got to get
the job done."

Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia, who before the season said he hated
the Twins, still can't beat them. The left-hander pitched well
enough to win but was hurt by five walks, the most painful one with
two outs to Mike Redmond in the ninth.

That one cost Sabathia a chance to finish, as he gave up an
infield single to pinch-hitter Terry Tiffee and left after throwing
118 pitches. Sabathia allowed four runs and six hits in 8 2/3
innings.

"Losing these games in extra innings is hard," Sabathia said.
"You can hear how quiet the clubhouse is."

Twins starter Brad Radke cruised into the seventh with a 4-1
lead, but had it all fall apart in the span of four batters as the
Indians hit three straight doubles and a triple to tie it.

Alex Cora led off with a fly ball to the gap in left-center that
dropped in between outfielders Stewart and Hunter, who stared at
each other waiting for the other to take charge.

"The ball was tailing away from me," Hunter said. "So I
looked at him and was like, 'What are you doing?' I had no chance
at it."

Ronnie Belliard followed with an RBI double, and Grady Sizemore
blooped a two-base hit to make it 4-3. Casey Blake then hit a shot
to right-center that Hunter nearly grabbed after a long run but had
the ball bounce off his glove, allowing Sizemore to score and chase
Radke.

The Twins wiggled out of the inning with no more damage as J.C.
Romero struck out two and right fielder Jacque Jones made a diving
catch on Gerut's flare.

Radke gave up four runs and 12 hits in six-plus innings. In his
previous start against Cleveland, he threw a three-hit shutout.

Game notes
Stewart was 1-for-17 in the series before his homer. ...
Cleveland has reportedly given permission to Kansas City to talk
with bench coach Buddy Bell about the Royals' managerial vacancy.
Bell, 53, has managed Detroit and Colorado. The Royals have been
looking for a manager since Tony Pena resigned on May 10. ... C Joe
Mauer sat out his second straight game with a tight groin. ...
Tiffee snapped an 0-for-22 skid with his single. ... Oddly, the
Twins came in leading the majors with a .310 average with runners
in scoring position, but they're batting just .185 (10-for-54) with
the bases loaded.