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Big eighth inning powers Twins past Royals

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- For the first time in four years, the
Minnesota Twins are out of playoff contention in the season's final
week.

They still have an important goal: finishing above .500.

Jacque Jones hit a go-ahead triple in a three-run eighth inning
to lead the Twins past Kansas City 6-3 on Wednesday night, handing
the Royals a team record-tying 104th loss.

Luis Rodriguez was walked by Andrew Sisco (2-5) to open the
eighth, and advanced to second on a groundout. Jones, who had two
hits in his previous 17 at-bats, then hit a drive that rolled to
the wall in left-center for his fourth triple of the season.

Michael Cuddyer doubled off Chris Demaria later in the inning
for two more runs.

"We'll take them any way we can get them. The guys are showing
a little life," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team is
80-78 with four to play.

Jesse Crain (12-5) threw 1 1/3 innings for the win, while Joe
Nathan pitched the ninth for his 41st save.

For the Royals, the feeling after a loss was all too familiar.

"We need to make changes this winter as players and as an
organization and turn things around because this is unacceptable,"
designated hitter Mike Sweeney said. "When you play bad baseball,
no matter what your record is, it's not real satisfying."

Jose Lima and Kyle Lohse may not figure in their team's plans
for 2006, and neither was stellar in his final start of the season.

Lima allowed three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings on
Wednesday. After signing a one-year, $2.5 million deal before the
season, and earning another $1.25 million in bonuses, he finished
5-16 with a 6.99 ERA. The losses tied a career high. He is 1-8 in
his last 11 starts with 49 earned runs allowed in 58 1/3 innings.

"I wanted to finish the year at least with a `W.' I didn't quit
and I didn't make no excuses," he said.

He doesn't regret signing with Kansas City, and would be happy
to return.

"If they didn't have no plans, they probably wouldn't have
pitched me for the last month," he said.

Eligible for salary arbitration this winter, Lohse might not be
back with the Twins -- who have starters Johan Santana, Brad Radke
and Carlos Silva signed, and prospects Scott Baker and Francisco
Liriano are ready for next year's rotation.

Lohse allowed eight hits and three earned runs in six innings,
finishing the year with a 9-13 record and a 4.18 ERA, his best in
five major league seasons.

"Whatever happens, happens. I know I'll still be pitching in
the big leagues," Lohse said. "I feel like I've given them
everything I've got."

But he also feuded with Gardenhire after being pulled from his
Sept. 6 start after allowing five runs in two innings. Lohse hurt
his right ring finger and damaged a door in the clubhouse with a
bat after he was pulled.

Emil Brown had an RBI single in the first to give Kansas City a
1-0 lead. Paul Phillips' two-run single in the fourth made it 3-0
lead.

"We weren't able to capitalize on some of the opportunities
that we had," said Kansas City manager Buddy Bell, noting Lohse
didn't have his normal control.

Minnesota's feeble offense again failed to significantly help
its starting pitcher. Lohse entered the game getting just 3.69 runs
of support, fifth-lowest in the AL.

The Twins got two runs in the fourth on RBI singles by Lew Ford
and Justin Morneau. They got another in the fifth when Jason Tyner
scored on a wild pitch by Lima.

Minnesota's J.C. Romero hit two batters in the seventh inning,
giving him six for the season in 57 innings. He walked off the
mound before Gardenhire arrived to take the ball following the
second hit batsman.

"That was wrong," Gardenhire said. "We'll get that
straightened out."

Romero initially claimed he wasn't upset, then later
acknowledged: "I guess the whole frustration from the year came
out."

Game notes
Morneau, bothered most of the year by soreness in his
elbow, is expected to have an MRI on his left arm Thursday or
Friday. He was 1-for-3 Wednesday. ... Sweeney is hitting .467
(21-for-45) against Minnesota this year with three homers. He just
missed a fourth in the seventh inning. ... For the first time in 19
games, Minnesota did not ground into a double play. The 18-game
stretch was the longest in the AL during the expansion era.