KANSAS CITY, MO. - When last seen at Kauffman Stadium, Carl Pavano was taking a bat to a garbage can in the Twins dugout, frustrated to no end over his lackluster performance in a seven-run loss.
That was May 1, one start after his 99th career win. On Friday night, Pavano was back for his seventh try at that elusive 100th win.
He delivered a vintage performance this time, getting stronger as the game progressed until he finished off a 5-2 victory over the Royals.
Afterward, Michael Cuddyer awarded the game ball, as he does after every victory, and this one went to Pavano.
"That's a pretty good milestone," Pavano said of the 100 wins. "A lot of perseverance, a lot of commitment, a lot of great teams behind me, helping me do it along the way."
Pavano, 35, said it wasn't until about two or three years ago that he began thinking about his career win total. He won only nine games in his four turbulent years with the Yankees, so he didn't exactly like dwelling on such things.
But since coming to the Twins in August 2009, Pavano has racked up 25 wins, including 18 last season. So his teammates definitely were pulling for him during his six-start winless streak.
"It's a very special accomplishment for him, especially after the four years he had in New York," Cuddyer said. "To be able to fight back and get the 100th win, it was a lot of fun to watch."
Pavano (3-5) labored through the first three innings, as the Twins built a 3-0 lead on a two-run double by Denard Span and a home run by Cuddyer off Royals starter Danny Duffy (0-1).
Pavano caught a break in the third, when Eric Hosmer hit a ball that got stuck in the padding above the left-center field wall. The umpires reviewed the play to see if it was a home run but ruled it a double. Instead of scoring from first base, Melky Cabrera had to go to third base, and Pavano retired Jeff Francoeur to escape that inning unscathed.
The Royals trimmed the lead to 3-2 in the fourth, when Pavano gave his team a scare. After giving up an RBI single to Alex Gordon, Pavano went to back up home plate and tripped over his own shoelace, landing on his right shoulder.
Manager Ron Gardenhire and assistant trainer Tony Leo went to the mound to make sure Pavano was OK.
"Just extremely embarrassed," Pavano said. "My pride was hurt a little bit. I'm not exactly the smallest guy. I've got a long way to go, so thank God I didn't get hurt."
As unsettled as Pavano looked at that moment, right in the middle of the field, he got up and settled into a groove, retiring 15 of 17 to end the game. During that stretch, catcher Drew Butera provided some insurance with an RBI double in the sixth and a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Pavano had thrown 103 pitches through eight innings but persuaded pitching coach Rick Anderson to send him back for the ninth. The righthander ended up with his 15th career complete game. Seven of those came last year, but this was his first of 2011.
"Carl Pavano was the story tonight," Gardenhire said. "Big win for him for his 100th win, and for our ballclub."