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KC@MIN: Plouffe lines a walk-off single in the ninth

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was certainly a season the Twins would like to forget, but they at least ended it on a high note on Wednesday at Target Field.

The Twins concluded their regular season in dramatic fashion, avoiding their 100th loss on a walk-off RBI single from Trevor Plouffe that scored Denard Span in the ninth inning, and Carl Pavano threw a shutout to lead Minnesota to a 1-0 win over the Royals.

"It was a very exciting end to the season for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Plouffe getting the game-winning hit was huge, Denard Span hitting the double for us and Carl Pavano was unbelievable. It was kind of a storybook way for us to get out of this season and win it like that in front of these fans who have been so good to us."

The Twins entered the last day of the season with a chance to reach the 100-loss mark for just the second time since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961, but Plouffe, Span and Pavano made sure it wouldn't happen.

Plouffe was the hero in the ninth inning, lacing an RBI single into left field off reliever Blake Wood to score Denard Span, who hit a pinch-hit double with one out and reached third on a groundout from Ben Revere.

Twins players mobbed Plouffe near second base after the game-winning hit, as Minnesota won back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 31-Sept. 2 to finish with a final record of 64-99.

"It's been a trying year for us -- 99 losses is not where you want to be," Plouffe said. "The 100-loss thing was looming over us, but honestly we didn't care about that because I feel that 99 is not too different than 100. But we wanted to end the season well because we wanted to show the fans we don't give up, and I think that's what we did today."

It was also a special moment for Span to score the last run of the season, as he's battled through concussion-like symptoms dating back to June 3, and came through with a big pinch-hit double.

"It was a good feeling," Span said. "Before the game started, I said how me coming back and playing the games I had before was the highlight of my season but definitely tonight was. I wasn't expecting to come off the bench, and so to come up and get a big hit like that was very huge for me."

It made a winner of Pavano, who threw his first shutout of the year in his final start. The right-hander allowed just five hits and didn't walk a batter. The veteran ended his season with a 9-13 record and a 4.30 ERA over 222 innings.

"It was a crazy game," Pavano said. "I'm sure you understand what we had hanging over our heads. No one wants to lose 100 games. This year has definitely been a disappointment for all of us team-wise but you have to battle. But we showed we could step up and although we didn't end the season the way we wanted to record-wise, it was one milestone we didn't want to step into it."

Pavano simply outdueled Royals right-hander Bruce Chen, who tossed eight scoreless innings but was saddled with the no-decision.

"Bruce pitched great," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We got overmatched by Pavano. He took care of us with the split, pretty much. Spotted his fastball really well, mixed in the slider and just cut us up with the split. We couldn't recognize it and we just kept beating it into the ground."

Minnesota finished the year with a 33-48 record at Target Field. And their 48 losses at home were the most since losing a record 50 games at the Metrodome in 1999.

But the Twins can go into the offseason on a positive note with their seventh walk-off win of the year.

"You're only as good as your last game, right?" Michael Cuddyer said with a laugh. "We're batting .1000 right now -- 2-0 over our last two games. As I've said, it feels better to win, and it was a memorable last game." Comments