MINNEAPOLIS - Jim Thome has always had a knack for hitting home runs in Minnesota. As an opponent at the Metrodome he was known to clear the fence with frustrating regularity. As a Twin for nearly two full seasons, he recorded the three longest homers in Target Field history.
On Thursday, Thome's second Target Field homer as an opponent was the difference as the Philadelphia Phillies took the rubber game of their series with the Minnesota Twins, winning 6-1.
Joe Blanton (6-6) gave up a second-inning home run, but allowed just seven hits in a complete game for the Phillies, who travel to Toronto for a three-game series this weekend. Blanton struck out Minnesota slugger Josh Willingham three times, as Willingham's 15-game hitting streak ended. It was the second complete game for Blanton this season, after he went the distance at Atlanta on May 3.
For Minnesota, rookie Scott Diamond (5-2) settled down and was solid after surrendering homers to Ty Wigginton and Thome, but took the loss for the Twins, who next host Milwaukee in a three-game weekend series.
Leading 4-1, the Phillies added two-out insurance runs in the eighth and ninth off of Twins relievers Lester Oliveros and Jeff Gray.
Wigginton started the scoring in the second inning, lifting an 0-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers to give the Phillies an early 1-0 lead. It was Wiggington's first hit versus the Twins in the series, after going 0-for-5 in his previous trips to the plate.
Trevor Plouffe tied things at 1-1 in the bottom of the second, hitting his third homer in as many games, and 12th of the season, to left.
But Diamond hit a snag in the third inning. Jimmy Rollins led off with a double, and went to third on Placido Polanco's groundout. After Hunter Pence walked, Thome hit a high arcing ball that landed in the flower bed, just in front of the first row of seats in right-center field. The three-run shot gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead, and gave Thome 24 homers at Target Field - the most of any major-leaguer.
Notes: After he lasted just four batters on Wednesday and took the 9-8 loss, the Twins placed right-handed starter P.J. Walters on the 15-day disabled list Thursday due to right shoulder inflammation. He will be replaced by Lester Oliveros, who has a 1-1 record with 22 strikeouts and two saves in relief for the Twins Class AAA affiliate in Rochester, N.Y. ... On Wednesday, the 41-year-old Thome became the oldest player in Phillies history to record four RBI in a game. . . .While Philadelphia's offense has been on a tear, opposing batters are swinging well versus the Phillies as well. In the 15 games since Roy Halladay was injured, Phillies starters have posted a 5.97 ERA. ... Joe Mauer's walk in the opening game of the Phillies series was the 500th of his career, making him just the seventh Twins player to get a free pass 500 times or more. The most recent was Chuck Knoblauch, who reached the milestone in 1997.