MINNEAPOLIS -- With Aaron Hicks going on the disabled list with a strained hamstring on Monday, it meant Clete Thomas would be taking over as Minnesota's regular center fielder in his absence.
The Twins were simply hoping Thomas, who wasn't even on the 40-man roster to start the season, could hold his own after impressing at Triple-A Rochester.
Thomas did that and more on Wednesday night, as he set a career high with four hits, driving in the game-tying run and scoring the winning one in the eighth to help lead the Twins to a 4-3 win over the Phillies at Target Field.
"It was a great game," Thomas said. "All the balls fell. I hit some hard and just found all the holes. I was really lucky. It was great."
The Twins entered the eighth down a run with left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo on the mound for the Phillies, but Oswaldo Arcia opened the inning with a double to right field for his third hit of the night. Thomas then came through with an RBI double to tie the game with his fourth hit of the game.
Eduardo Escobar dropped a bunt down to reach on an infield single and advance Thomas to third with nobody out. Right-hander Justin De Fratus came in and was able to get Pedro Florimon to line out sharply to second, but then threw a wild pitch with pinch-hitter Chris Parmelee at the plate to allow Thomas to score the go-ahead run from third.
"I pulled a sinker," De Fratus said. "It was supposed to be low and away, and it was down and in. He had no chance to catch it. It was completely on me."
"I was going right away," Thomas said. "I saw it squirt away and I was going and just hoping it didn't kick hard off that wall. It stayed back there."
Mike Pelfrey didn't factor into the decision but was solid for seven innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk while tying a season high with seven strikeouts. It was just his fourth quality start of the season.
"Luckily I was able to command both sides of the plate," Pelfrey said. "Obviously it's another step in the right direction, and then we pulled it out in the end, which makes for a good night."
Pelfrey was hurt by a missed call by first-base umpire Bruce Dreckman in the first inning, as Ben Revere was ruled safe while trying to beat out a throw from third baseman Jamey Carroll, but replays showed Justin Morneau tagged Revere out on the play. After Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard walked to load the bases with one out, Domonic Brown brought home a run with a sacrifice fly before Delmon Young singled home Rollins.
But Pelfrey settled down from there, as he went on to retire 12 straight batters before giving up a two-out double to Michael Young in the fifth. Revere then plated Young with a bloop single to left field.
Pelfrey was able to bounce back and throw two more scoreless innings to mark his longest outing of the year. His previous high was 6 1/3 innings in his last outing against the Royals on Thursday.
"Pelfrey did a really nice job out there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I thought his last two innings were just as good as his others. The ball was coming out of his hand and his breaking ball was better. So that was fun to watch."
The Twins finally scored in the fourth against Phillies right-hander Tyler Cloyd on an RBI double from Thomas to plate Arcia after he singled to open the inning. But Thomas was held at third on a single from Escobar and was stranded there with Florimon striking out and Carroll grounding into an inning-ending double play.
After Cloyd exited following five innings, the Twins scored in the sixth after Arcia and Thomas led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Escobar bunted over both runners and Arcia scored on an RBI groundout from Florimon, but Carroll grounded out to leave Thomas at third.
But the bottom half of the lineup still did its job on the night, as Arcia, Thomas and Escobar combined to go 9-for-11 with four runs scored and two RBIs.
"We had a lot of hits from the bottom of our order -- some big hits," Gardenhire said. "So it was a fun win. It didn't look like much was going on through the early and middle part of the game, but we got rolling after that and had a lot of excitement. Clete Thomas a big, big night. A huge night for him and our ballclub."