MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Twins capped a remarkable turnaround by clinching a playoff spot Monday night, beating the Kansas City Royals 8-1 behind home runs from Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter.

Boof Bonser came up with another strong start in helping the Twins reach the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. This one certainly looked unlikely when they were 25-33 in early June, and the Twins celebrated their comeback by jumping up and down in the middle of the diamond.

Minnesota’s win, coupled with Chicago’s 14-1 loss to the Indians, eliminated the defending World Series champion White Sox from contention. The Twins can now focus on the AL Central race, in which they trail Detroit by one game.

Indians 14, White Sox 1

CLEVELAND – Cliff Lee pitched seven strong innings in Cleveland’s 14-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Casey Blake hit a grand slam – Cleveland’s major league record-tying 14th this season – to highlight an eight-run sixth inning that finished off Jon Garland (17-7).

Yankees 16, Devil Rays 1

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui hit three-run homers in a wild six-run first inning and the New York Yankees went on to beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 16-1. Jaret Wright (11-7), bidding to be the Yankees’ fourth starter in the postseason, gave up one run, five hits, four walks and struck out four in six innings. He is 7-1 all-time against Tampa Bay.

Astros 5, Phillies 4

PHILADELPHIA – Pinch-hitter Mike Lamb’s infield single drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, lifting the Houston Astros to their sixth straight victory, 5-4 over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies (82-74) dropped into a tie with Los Angeles for the NL wild-card lead. Both teams have six games remaining in the regular season – all on the road.

The surging Astros (78-78) entered 31/2 games behind NL Central-leading St. Louis.

Houston swept a four-game series against the Cardinals last weekend to cut the gap.


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