Nishioka done, more to come, and Twins fall again

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Cleveland Indians' Jim Thome, right, signs an autograph for a Minnesota Twins' fan prior to their baseball game, Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, in Minneapolis. This is the first game back at Target Field for Thome after being traded to the Indians last month.

Photo: Tom Olmscheid, Associated Press

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Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced after Friday's game that infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka has been shut down because of a nagging right oblique strain.

And there's a growing chance Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel have played their final games.

Gardenhire revealed the Nishioka decision when asked by a Japanese reporter for an update following the Twins' 7-6 loss to Cleveland on Friday.

"Nishi is not going to play for the rest of the year,'' Gardenhire said. "He's out. The trainers have shut him down. They are giving him treatment for his ribs, and he will not play the rest of the year.''

Gardenhire said Nishioka has been given an offseason program to follow. Nishioka finishes the season batting .226 with no homers, 19 RBI and two stolen bases in six attempts. He's been a bust, but the Twins continue to indicate he will be in the mix for a starting middle infield spot next year.

Morneau was at the park Friday but was very sick. He has the same illness that has been going around the clubhouse recently. That, coupled with his attempts to shake off concussion symptoms, could lead the Twins to decide to shut him down for the final two weeks.

Kubel was the designated hitter Friday but left after two at-bats when his left foot began to ache. He bruised the foot in June and landed on the disabled list.

"It doesn't look good for Koob,'' Gardenhire said.

Kubel said he plans to have the foot re-examined during the offseason but is still convinced that rest is all he needs. He's rested the foot some but then has tried to play. It's not getting any better.

"Everything has been frustrating about this year,'' Kubel said.

Thome gets ovation

Fans rose to their feet and cheered in the ninth when Jim Thome drove a Joe Nathan pitch into the seats in right for a solo home run and 7-4 lead.

But the Twins scored twice in the ninth to make the final 7-6. It ended up being a big blow, as it sent the Twins to their sixth six-game losing streak of the year.

It was Thome's first game at Target Field since the Twins traded him to Cleveland on Aug. 25. He got a rousing ovation in the second inning when he batted for the first time. The Twins showed a highlight video, including the words ''Thanks Jim.''

"I think everyone knows how I felt about Minnesota and the wonderful two years that I spent here,'' Thome said, "from Gardy to our coaches to the players. I mean my whole experience over there was great.''

Slowey struggles again

Kevin Slowey, looking for his first victory of the season, was knocked out of the game after four innings and 90 pitches.

"I don't think I have the lexicon to describe how disappointed I am in how I threw today and how I have thrown most of the year, to be honest with you,'' Slowey said.

Slowey, 0-6. has lost six consecutive starts for the first time in his career and is the first Twins starter to lose six in a row in a season since Boof Bonser in 2007. Slowey's last victory came on Sept. 18, 2010.

One bright spot was outfielder Joe Benson, who was 4-for-4 with two doubles and was a homer shy of the cycle. His double in the ninth would have left most parks but hit high off of the wall in right-center.

Etc.

• Danny Valencia was a late scratch from the starting lineup because of the flu. Luke Hughes, set to start at second base, replaced him at third base and Brian Dinkelman entered the lineup at second.

• Lefthander Francisco Liriano (shoulder) was activated from the 15-day disabled list and was available out of the bullpen.

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