Valencia base hit atones for mistake

The third baseman made a baserunning error, but all was well after his 10th-inning single.

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Twins third baseman Danny Valencia fell behind 0-2 in the 10th inning to Royals righthander Robinson Tejeda. Two pitches later, Tejeda threw him a fastball up and away.

"He was doing me a favor at that point," Valencia said. "I was real defensive."

Valencia went with the pitch and lined a single to right. Jason Repko scored from third. The Twins won 4-3 and Valencia went home thinking he had atoned for a mistake in the ninth inning that might have made the game go on longer than it should have.

Valencia led off the ninth with a walk. After Luke Hughes struck out on a 96 mile-per-hour fastball from Royals righthander Aaron Crow, Jim Thome pinch hit for Alexi Casilla and lefty Tim Collins came in for Crow.

Thome hit a soft liner to right-center for a single. Valencia dithered at first as he made sure the ball got through. Jeff Francoeur has a terrific arm in right, so it would have been close if Valencia had taken off at the crack of the bat and tried for third.

Valencia pulled into second. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire pulled what remains of his hair.

"He needed to get to third base on that play and he knows that," Gardenhire said. "He came to me and asked and I told him, 'You have to be there. We needed you to take a chance.'"

Valencia was thrown out between first and second on Sunday against Oakland, so he's been in a baserunning rut.

"I've been messing up on the basepaths a little too much and I need to clean that up," Valencia said. "It's a tough read but in that situation I probably should have been a little more aggressive."

Denard Span followed with a flyout to medium-deep center field. Had Valencia been on third, he could have scored.

Baserunning was an issue in the 10th before Valencia batted, when Delmon Young singled and was replaced by pinch runner Repko. Michael Cuddyer, who had four singles Tuesday, walked. Jason Kubel clobbered a Tejeda pitch to right-center.

"I thought it was going to be in the upper deck," Valencia said.

Kubel even pumped his fist as he ran to first base. But the ball missed the stands, missed the wall and popped in and out of Francoeur's glove. Repko, halfway between second and third, had started to go back to second when he saw that the ball was dropped, so he couldn't have tried to round third and score.

It eventually worked out, when Valencia gave the Twins their first walk-off victory of the year. All four wins have been by one run.

An announced crowd of 38,154 was the third non-sellout in Target Field history, ending a streak of 81 consecutive sellouts.

The game was messy in other areas, too. Starter Brian Duensing threw wildly to first on a bunt play, the first error of his major league career, allowing runners to advance to second and third in the seventh inning. Melky Cabrera's infield single off Duensing's shin allowed the Royals to tie the score at 3-3.

That was Duensing's last batter. Jose Mijares and Matt Capps worked out of the jam, and Capps, Joe Nathan and Dusty Hughes pitched perfect relief from there. One fastball by Nathan hit 93 on the stadium radar gun, his best since his return from Tommy John surgery.

Eventually, Valencia got a chance to redeem himself and took advantage of it.

"He came back and got a big hit there at the end," Gardenhire said of Valencia, "which is huge."

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