Thome homers as Indians top Twins
MINNEAPOLIS — Ron Gardenhire got used to seeing Jim Thome hit home runs at Target Field as a member of the Minnesota Twins.
Thome is still hitting homers at the Twins ballpark, but now he's wearing a Cleveland Indians jersey.
The slugger connected on No. 603 in his return to Minnesota, sending the Twins to their sixth straight defeat and 90th loss of the season, 7-6 on Friday night.
"No matter what team you're on, when he walks up to the plate you're always interested in watching him," Gardenhire said. "He got us tonight, but we've seen him get lots of people and he's gotten us before."
Thome homered in the ninth inning against Joe Nathan for a 7-4 lead, just Thome's second home run since Cleveland reacquired him on Aug. 25. The 41-year-old spent his first 12 seasons with Cleveland and more than 1 1/2 years with the Twins.
His 22 home runs are the most at Target Field, now in its second season, and he has six of the eight-longest homers in the ballpark's history.
The Twins showed a video tribute of Thome before his first at-bat and he was greeted with a standing ovation before flying out to the left-field warning track. Twins fans that braved the chilly weather also gave Thome a standing ovation after his home run.
"Getting a chance to come here and play here for the two years I did was very special," Thome said. "The crowd has always been great here. They really have. It's been a joy. A little different competing against them, but that's part of the game too."
Thome's return overshadowed rookie Joe Benson's bid to hit for the cycle.
The left-fielder walked to the plate in the ninth needing a home run to become the 11th Twins player to hit for the cycle and first since Michael Cuddyer in 2009.
Benson ripped a line drive a line drive to deep right-center field off Indians closer Chris Perez, but the ball hit off the scoreboard and Benson had to settle for another double.
"I knew it wasn't going to get high enough," said Benson, who finished 4-for-4. "I just wanted to get on base, get a rally going. It felt good, it felt really good."
Ben Revere had two hits and two RBIs and Trevor Plouffe drove in two runs.