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Thome hits 2 HRs to pass Killebrew for 10th place

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Twins slugger Jim Thome homered in his first two at-bats Saturday to pass Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew for 10th place on the career list with 574 home runs.

Thome hit a 1-0 pitch from Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis to the opposite field in the second inning and it just barely reached the seats in left for his ninth homer of the season.

"I talked to Jim quite a bit when I was in spring training," Killebrew said from Arizona after Thome's first homer. "I told him, 'Don't feel bad if you pass me up, because I passed up a lot of guys in my career.'"

Thome did just that in the fourth inning, hitting a no-doubter that landed in the bullpen in left-center field. The team played a previously taped message from Killebrew, one of the most beloved players in franchise history, congratulating Thome on the achievement.

"I'm glad he was able to hit it in a Twins uniform," Killebrew said. "I only wish I could have been there to see it."

Killebrew has long admired Thome, in large part because he has never been linked to the steroid scandal that has stained so many sluggers of his generation. Killebrew has been an outspoken critic of steroids and their impact on baseball's record books.

Next on the career list is Mark McGwire with 583. The current Cardinals hitting coach admitted in the offseason to using steroids during his career.

Thome signed a one-year deal with the Twins to chase the World Series title that has eluded him in 17 years in the big leagues. He's been a boon for Minnesota with 10 homers and 24 RBIs in just 121 at-bats.

Killebrew recently held a charity golf tournament in Arizona for his granddaughter, Caitlyn Mae White. The 9-year-old was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy with WPW Syndrom in May and will need a heart transplant if medication does not work.