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Updated: August 6th, 2010 10:48pm
Wild ninth inning ends with Laporta's walk-off, as Tribe tops Twins 7-6

Wild ninth inning ends with Laporta's walk-off, as Tribe tops Twins 7-6

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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The Twins supplied the party in the top of the ninth on Friday night, but Matt Laporta brought the buzzkill with a walk-off home run, giving the Indians a 7-6 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Francisco Liriano struggled with control against a depleted Indians lineup, which we'll get to in a second, but let's cut to the climax.

With the Twins trailing 6-4 heading into the top of the ninth, J.J. Hardy reached on an infield single, and Jim Thome -- pinch hitting for Drew Butera -- smacked a towering fly ball to left field. The ball ricocheted high in the air off the top of the wall and back down into the field of play.

Umpires originally ruled it a double, putting runners on second and third with nobody out. Replays appeared to show the ball bouncing behind the yellow line, but umpires apparently didn't see conclusive evidence in a video review to overturn the call.

Manager Ron Gardenhire immediately came out to protest the review, and he was ejected from the game.

After a check-swing strikeout by Denard Span, Alexi Casilla -- continuing his strange odyssey -- made up for the controversial call by ripping a base hit up the middle to tie the game 6-6.

Casilla was eventually stranded at first base. Laporta then turned on a fastball by Matt Guerrier and deposited it into the left field seats for a walkoff home run.

There's really not much else to say. Thome's towering fly would have been a lot more controversial had Casilla not come through with a two-run single. Joe Mauer and Delmon Young both had chances to move Casilla around from first base, but didn't do so.

Ultimately, Laporta and the Indians won the game straight up.

Control amiss

Liriano had his worst outing since allowing seven earned runs in 1 2/3 innings against Detroit on July 9, walking six and allowing four earned runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

The six walks tied a career high for Liriano (albeit he was getting squeezed at times by homeplate umpire Scott Barry), and the seven team walks were the second-most the Twins have issued all season. They handed out eight free passes in Tampa on Tuesday.

Heading into Friday night, Twins pitchers had allowed the fewest walks per nine innings (2.21) of any team in baseball, and Liriano had issued more than two walks in only five of his previous 21 starts.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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