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Emotional, dramatic win for Twins

By TIMES WIRES
Published September 29, 2006


TWINS 2, ROYALS 1 (10)

MINNEAPOLIS - Brad Radke, as steady as anyone in the Minnesota clubhouse, fought tears and was forced to turn away when talking about his return to the mound became too tough.

Manager Ron Gardenhire shook his head and laughed at the thought of his team, 12 games back just 2½ months ago, being tied for first place.

This has been an unbelievable season for the Twins, and it's not done yet.

Jason Bartlett's single to deep center with the bases loaded in the 10th gave Minnesota a win and moved the Twins into a tie for the Central Division lead with Detroit, which lost to Toronto 8-6.

"Who would have thought?" catcher Joe Mauer said after his homer with two outs in the ninth tied it and gave Joe Nelson his first blown save in 10 chances.

Joe Nathan pitched the 10th for the win, long after Radke's impressive return and right before Bartlett's big hit capped another wild night at the Metrodome.

It began with Radke, who needed only 57 pitches to get through five easy innings after fighting shoulder problems that kept him out for the past month. The only run against the former Jesuit High standout was unearned, scoring on a double by Paul Phillips in the second - one of three hits allowed by Radke.

The 33-year-old has said he plans to retire after the season, and he helped pitch the Twins back in the race despite a torn labrum and a stress fracture that was later found in his throwing shoulder. He left his last start, Aug. 25 at Chicago, after only two innings.

"You see a lot of things in this game as a manager, coach and player, but watching him go to the mound and be able to throw the ball like that was pretty special," Gardenhire said.

The Tigers, who hold the tiebreaker over the Twins by winning the season series, host the Royals for their final three games. Minnesota is home for the final three against the White Sox.

Notable: Mauer, who went 1-for-4, leads the majors with a .349 batting average.