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"T.K. was saying, 'A lot of ballgame left.

By Arnie StapletonAssociated Press Published: May 11, 2000 12:00 AM

"T.K. was saying, 'A lot of ballgame left. Let's keep playing the game and see if something happens,' " Midre Cummings recounted.

"We did, and it did."

Cummings' game-winning, two-run homer capped the biggest comeback in Minnesota's 40-year history, a 10-9 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.

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The shellshocked Indians' second straight breakdown _ they blew a 5-0 lead to the Twins on Tuesday night _ dropped the five-time defending AL Central champions into third place for the first time since May 17, 1997.

"Any loss is bad, particularly when you're leading by a significant number of runs," Travis Fryman said.

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Minnesota, which had never before overcome a deficit of more than six runs, trailed 8-1 in the seventh inning and 9-7 in the ninth.

Cummings' homer off Steve Karsay (0-2) made a winner of Eddie Guardado (3-1), who gave up David Justice's solo homer in the top of the inning.

"Tom Kelly always says, 'No matter the score, play all nine innings,' " Guardado said. "And look what happens when you do."

Matt Lawton hit a one-out double in the bottom of the ninth and scored on Ron Coomer's single, making it 9-8. After Butch Huskey flied out, Cummings sent a 2-0 pitch the opposite way, 361 feet over the left-field wall.

"That's the first time in my life I hit a game-winning homer," Cummings said.

Karsay said his outside fastball was exactly where he wanted it.

"If I was going to get beat, it would be to the opposite field," he said.

Cummings' first homer since last Sept. 30 against Detroit also denied Charles Nagy his first victory since April 11. Nagy gave up five runs and seven hits in six-plus innings.

The teams both batted around in a wild seventh inning that featured 10 runs, 12 hits and eight pitchers.

Jim Thome, whose ninth homer gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the second, doubled off Sean Bergman to start the fifth and scored on Richie Sexson's double. Sexson scored on Fryman's groundout for a 3-1 lead, and Enrique Wilson added an RBI single.

Fryman led off the seventh with his fifth homer for a 5-1 lead, and Bergman surrendered infield hits to Jolbert Cabrera, Roberto Alomar and Wilson.

Cabrera scored on Wilson's hopper to first, and that was it for Bergman, who gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings.

Manny Ramirez capped Cleveland's four-run inning with a two-run single off Hector Carrasco for a seemingly safe 8-1 lead.

But Nagy wasn't the same after the long rest and surrendered four straight hits, ending his outing. Marcus Jensen's two-run homer made it 8-3.

"Our seventh inning got him out of his game," Fryman said of Nagy. "You find a rhythm and then that long of an inning can throw you off."

Cristian Guzman's groundout off Tom Martin scored another run, and Lawton added an RBI single, making it 8-5 and bringing in Sean DePaula, who allowed a double steal with an amazingly slow windup to Coomer, whose groundout then scored Denny Hocking from third.

Paul Shuey, the Indians' fifth pitcher of the inning, gave up a run-scoring single to pinch-hitter Cummings that made it 8-7 before Jensen's inning-ending flyout.

"We know their ball club is not going to quit," Cleveland bench coach Grady Little said. "They'll battle you to the last man."

Notes: Minnesota had rallied to win 10 times in team history when trailing by six runs, including twice last season. ... Hitters are batting .358 against Bergman this season. ... Ramirez extended his hitting streak to nine. ... Cabrera had a career-high three hits, all singles, for the second straight night.

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