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Twins prevail in Dome classic
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06/10/2002 11:03 pm ET 
Twins prevail in Dome classic
By Mark Sheldon /

Cristian Guzman slides safely into third base during the Twins five-run first inning in their 15-inning win which was capped by a Guzman double on Monday night. (AP Photo/ Eric Miller)
MINNEAPOLIS - It may be 11 years removed from the 1991 World Series, but the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves are still generating plenty of excitement when they meet.

The Interleague Play stakes that brought them together again may not be as high as it was in '91, but Monday's game featured a pair of first-place teams locked into an epic extra-inning battle.

Both teams' bullpens did terrific jobs at keeping the game deadlocked but it was the Twins that ultimately prevailed by a 6-5 score in 15 innings. Cristian Guzman broke the tie with a two-out, RBI double to right field that scored Tom Prince from first base. Gary Sheffield's throw from right field was cut off by first baseman Wes Helms, and Prince slid safely in home, just beating Helms' throw to the plate.

"It was a hell of a battle," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A great war. You knew it was going to come down to some wild play at the end."

Tony Fiore (4-1) pitched three innings of one-hit baseball to pick up the win. Kerry Ligtenberg (0-3) surrendered the winning hit to take the loss.

"They pitched great," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We had runners in scoring position almost every inning it sweemed like. We just couldn't get the big hit."

Minnesota wasted no time attacking Braves starter Greg Maddux and jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first inning. The Twins rattled off five straight singles to begin the game, two being RBI hits by Doug Mientkiewicz, and Matthew LeCroy. After Torii Hunter hit the inning's fifth single, Corey Koskie drove in Mientkiewicz with a sacrifice fly to right field.

With Dustan Mohr at the plate, Hunter stole second base while Atlanta catcher Henry Blanco's throw sailed into center field to allow LeCroy to score. Hunter went to third base on the play and soon scored when Mohr cracked an RBI single to right field. The eighth and ninth batters, A.J. Pierzynski and Luis Rivas were retired to end the inning but the damage was already inflicted with the Twins ahead of Atlanta by five runs.

"They're a good aggressive team and they go up there ready to hack," Maddux said. "If you make good pitches you can have a quick inning and if you don't, you're going to be out there for a while."

Twins starter Eric Milton held the Braves without a hit until the fifth inning when Chipper Jones hit a double to the right field corner. Andruw Jones followed with a single to left field and Vinny Castilla drove in Jones with another single to left.

With one out, Blanco made it a 5-2 game with a single to center field that scored Jones. Jesse Garcia then grounded into a fielder's choice play that score Castilla and narrowed Minnesota's lead to two.

In the sixth inning, Gary Sheffield drew a one-out walk before Chipper Jones went deep for a two-run homer that tied the game at 5-5. Milton's 0-2 pitch to Jones was up in the strike zone and the Braves left fielder jumped on it.

Milton finished his evening with a perfect seventh inning and was replaced by Mike Jackson to begin the eighth. The left-handed starter allowed five runs on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

"I thought Miltie pitched pretty doggone good," Gardenhire said. "He gave up one bad pitch to Chipper. I thought they were just rolling balls through like we did to Mr. Maddux."

After his rough start, Maddux settled in, keeping the Twins scoreless for the rest of his outing. He retired the last seven batters he faced and a pitching line of five runs and 10 hits with a walk and four strikeouts over his seven innings of work.

Braves manager Bobby Cox was ejected from the game in the eighth inning arguing a call at first base. With two runners on, Andruw Jones hit a grounder to third base for a double play. Replays showed Jones clearly beat the throw to first base, but was called out by umpire Mike Fichter. Cox argued for several moments and tossed his cap in disgust, prompting his fourth ejection of the season.

Mark Sheldon covers the Twins for and can be reached at This article was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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