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Tiffee's first homer in majors crowns Royals

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Eventually, Terry Tiffee's going to find out
major league baseball isn't supposed to be this easy. But until
then, the Twins are happy to let him enjoy the ride.

Tiffee led off the bottom of the ninth with his first major
league home run to lift the Minnesota Twins past Kansas City 4-3 Saturday.

Since joining the Twins when rosters expanded on Sept. 1, Tiffee
has driven in the go-ahead run in three of four games. On Saturday,
he hit a 2-2 slider from Dennys Reyes (3-8) over the left-field
fence to give the Twins their fifth straight victory.

"I thought he'd throw a back-foot slider and I just got the
barrel on it and hit it hard," said Tiffee, who went 3-for-4 and
is hitting .462 since arriving in Minnesota. Tiffee is only in the
lineup right now because of an injury to regular third baseman
Corey Koskie, who sprained his ankle Aug. 27.

"We've been pretty good all year at picking guys up and
stepping in when guys are injured," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire
said. "It shouldn't stop now."

Trailing 3-0 after one inning, the Royals steadily fought back
and tied it in the eighth when Angel Berroa led off with a double
and scored two outs later on a J.C. Romero wild pitch.

"Romero bounced a slider about halfway, which is a little
disappointing," Gardenhire said. "Whenever you give up a lead,
it's always disappointing."

Romero (6-1) rebounded to strike out the side in the ninth,
extending his team-record scoreless streak to 33 2/3 innings and
setting up Tiffee's heroics.

"I threw the pitch where I wanted it," Reyes said. "I was
trying to get him off-balance. He just got the head out. I've been
having this kind of luck lately."

Justin Morneau put the Twins up early with a three-run shot in
the first inning off rookie starter Mike Wood, his 17th homer of
the season and 15th since he was recalled from Triple-A Rochester
on July 16.

That was all the Twins would muster against Wood, who gave up
five hits and struck out six in 6 1/3 innings.

"After the first inning, he settled down and threw the ball
well," said Royals manager Tony Pena. "Unfortunately, he gave up
the home run to Morneau. He was aggressive after the first
inning."

Twins pitcher Carlos Silva gave up two runs and seven hits over
six innings, and didn't show any signs of the neck injury that
knocked him out of his two previous starts. He settled for his
fourth straight no-decision and hasn't won since shutting out
Anaheim on Aug. 3.

The Royals ended a streak of 30 consecutive singles in the
second when Dee Brown hit an RBI double off Silva to make it 3-1.

Matt Stairs made it 3-2 in the third with another RBI double.
Stairs' blooper caught chalk on the left-field line, driving in
Berroa.

Silva got out of a jam in the sixth inning thanks to his
defense. With runners on first and third with one out, Brown lifted
a fly ball to left. Rookie outfielder Jason Kubel, making his first
big league start, caught the ball and cut down Calvin Pickering at
the plate for an inning-ending double play.

Kubel, who was Tiffee's teammate at Triple-A Rochester this
season, said he's not surprised to see Tiffee play the hero on a
bigger stage.

"He's a great hitter, and he's been doing this all year,"
Kubel said. "It's nothing new for me. I expect it from him. He's
always calm, and he just knows what he needs to do and how to fix
things when he needs to."

Tiffee said he hit two game-winning home runs earlier this year,
including a ninth-inning grand slam to win a game in Rochester.
"But before that, I'd never hit one, so I don't know what's going
on," he quipped. "I'm just confident in my ability and I just try
to let that take over."

Game notes
Kubel led off the game with a double for his first major
league hit. ... Wood tied his career high with six strikeouts. ...
The loss officially eliminated the Royals from postseason play.