Archive for Thursday, September 29, 2005

Twins hand Royals team-record-tying 104th loss

September 29, 2005

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— 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, leading the Twins past Kansas City, 6-3, 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 a triple.

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 11â3 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 teams' plans for 2006, and neither was stellar in his final start.

Lima allowed three runs and six hits in 62â3 innings 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 earned-run average. The losses tied a career high. He is 1-8 in his last 11 starts with 49 earned runs allowed in 581â3 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," Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said.

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