War of attrition
Twins overcome Burks' three homers, beat Indians in 12
Updated: Wednesday June 20, 2001 8:08 AM
CLEVELAND (AP) -- After nearly five hours, 19 runs, 13 pitchers and 420 pitches, it's no wonder Twins manager Tom Kelly lost track of what inning it was.
"Fortunately, we scored two runs in the 18th inning or whatever it was," Kelly joked after his team's 21st come-from-behind win.
The opener of the AL Central showdown series had a little bit of everything, including a pinch-hit homer, a go-ahead bunt single, 12 pitchers, an ejection and the threat of a thunderstorm -- all after the seventh.
"So much went on in this game, I don't know what you're talking about," said Twins DH Brian Buchanan. "We were up 6-0 and they just kept hitting pitches. You have to have a 10-0 lead against these guys."
Pierzynski's double snapped a four-game losing streak for the Twins, who opened a 1 1/2-game lead over second-place Cleveland in the Central.
The wild night was similar to the first of 19 matchups between the teams earlier this month when the Twins beat the Indians 11-10 at the Metrodome -- scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on an infield single.
Burks homered in the sixth, eighth and 12th and Kenny Lofton hit a pinch-hit homer in Cleveland's five-run eighth.
"I was talking the other night about that I had never done it and, lo and behold, there it is," Burks said. "But it sure would have been nice to do it in a win. It was a strange night. We had a slow start and an excellent comeback. This team showed we're going to fight."
Jim Thome also homered for the Indians, who rallied from a 6-0 deficit, gave up the lead in the top of the ninth, tied it in the bottom and had a couple of chances to win it in extras.
"I like the way we came back," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "When Lofton hit the homer I thought we had them."
Torii Hunter opened the 12th with a single off Charles Nagy (1-2), making just his third career relief appearance in 283 games. Buchanan followed with a single and Pierzynski ripped his double into the right-field corner.
Bob Wells (5-2) gave up Burks' homer in the 12th and but pitched three innings for the win.
Trailing 8-7, the Indians forced extra innings when LaTroy Hawkins walked Lofton on four pitches with the bases loaded.
Hawkins got out of the inning by getting Einar Diaz on a forceout and got into a heated shouting match with plate umpire Dale Scott while heading to the dugout.
Kelly and several Twins tried to restrain Hawkins, who tried to go after Scott before being ejected.
"I'm a little disappointed my closer lost his composure," Kelly said. "That's not acceptable and we're going to address that."
The Twins blew a 6-0 lead and trailed 7-6 entering the ninth after Lofton's first career pinch-hit homer -- and first homer since Oct. 1 -- capped Cleveland's five-run eighth.
For nearly eight innings, the Indians did little against Eric Milton, who took a two-hit shutout into the sixth before Burks hit his 300th career homer.
Thome connected in the seventh and Burks hit his second solo shot in the eighth to make it 6-3.
Lofton, who was kept out of the starting lineup with the Indians facing a lefty, drove a 1-1 pitch over the wall in center to give the Indians their first lead at 7-6.
Milton gave up eight hits -- three solo homers -- and four runs in 7 1/3 innings.
Colon didn't get out of the fifth -- his shortest outing this season -- and gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Notes: Following the game, the Twins optioned RHP Juan Rincon and LHP Brad Thomas to the minors. The Twins will make two more moves on Wednesday. ... John Lucas came over from his introductory news conference as the Cavaliers head coach to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Burks, the 17th active player to hit 300 or more homers, has hit 127 in the AL and 175 in the NL. ... The Twins blew a six-run lead for the ninth time in club history.