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Twins Clinch A.L. Central Crown


Minneapolis,  MN (Sports Network) - Orlando Hudson's RBI double capped a four-
run  eighth inning, as the Minnesota Twins earned a 6-4 come-from-behind win
over Cleveland and later Tuesday became the first team in the majors to clinch
a playoff spot.

With the win and a 7-2 loss by the Chicago White Sox in Oakland later Tuesday,
the  Twins  clinched their  second straight American  League Central title and
sixth  in the last  nine seasons under Ron Gardenhire, who picked up the 800th
managerial win of his career.

The  division  race was not  nearly as suspenseful  as the previous two years,
when  a  163rd game was  required to determine  the champion. Minnesota lost a
one-game playoff to Chicago to decide the Central in 2008, then needed to beat
Detroit in the same situation to capture the division a year ago.

Trailing  4-1, the  Twins got a run  in the sixth when impressive rookie third
baseman  Danny  Valencia drove  in Jim  Thome with  his two-out single. Rafael
Perez  replaced  Cleveland starting  pitcher  Fausto  Carmona and  Nick  Punto
grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

Thome singled off Justin Masterson (6-13) to open the eighth, and Delmon Young
hit  a sinking  line drive  to  center field  that caromed  off an  indecisive
Michael  Brantley.  Young was credited  with a double that scored pinch-runner
Trevor  Plouffe.  A single by  Valencia put men on  the corners for Punto, who
flied out to left field.

Tony  Sipp took over on the mound for Cleveland and yielded a sacrifice fly to
pinch-hitter  Jose Morales  that tied  the game.  Denard Span  then slapped  a
single  to left,  plating Valencia with the go-ahead run, and Hudson split the
gap in right-center to make it 6-4.

Matt Capps tossed a perfect ninth for his 15th save with the Twins and 41st of
the season.

Thome  homered  in the second inning  for Minnesota, which improved to an MLB-
best 45-18 since the All-Star break.

Scott  Baker got  the starting nod for  the Twins, his first since September 2
because  of  elbow tendinitis, and  allowed two runs --  one earned -- on four
hits and struck out seven over five full frames. Glen Perkins (1-1) earned the
win after pitching the eighth.

Travis  Hafner and Drew  Sutton both had two hits and knocked in a run for the
Indians, while Carmona gave up two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Cleveland  scratched out a run in the first. Shin-Soo Choo drew a two-out walk
and  advanced to third on catcher Drew Butera's errant pickoff attempt. Hafner
then put the Indians on the board with a double to left.

After  Thome's blast -- his 25th of the season and 589th of his career -- tied
the  game in  the second, Sutton restored  the lead in the fifth for Cleveland
with a two-out single that scored Brantley.

Jose  Mijares  was on the  hill to begin the  sixth for Minnesota and promptly
gave  up  three consecutive singles  to load  the bases. Trevor Crowe grounded
into  a 6-4-3 double  play to produce a run and Luis Valbuena followed with an
RBI double to give the Indians a three-run lead.