Bonderman's eighth-inning balk let the tying run score on Sunday during a bizarre, small-ball rally by the Twins, who rebounded to beat the Detroit Tigers 6-4 and avoid their first home sweep of the season.
"The worst inning of my life," a dejected Bonderman muttered afterward in the clubhouse, his voice barely audible.
Bonderman (11-5) was breezing past Twins ace Johan Santana -- who couldn't find the strike zone and lasted only 5 1/3 innings in one of his shakiest outings of the season -- until the eighth, when Minnesota turned a bunch of choppers and two errors into a six-run inning.
"The slider he was throwing, it's like invisible," said Justin Morneau, whose infield single -- the first since Luis Castillo's bunt single leading off the bottom of the first -- sparked the late spurt.
After a three-game sweep at Chicago earlier this week that pulled the Twins even with the White Sox and one-half game behind the Yankees in the wild-card race, fans in Minnesota were buzzing.
Attendance for the series was announced at 134,178, including 43,204 for this one that gave the Twins their largest three-game total since 1992. The customers were getting edgy, though, booing rookie left fielder Josh Rabe after his second throwing error of the game in the seventh and wondering what the home team had to do to get something going.
The answer came soon.
Bonderman, who faced the minimum 18 batters through six innings, didn't give up a solid hit until Michael Cuddyer's two-run triple that capped the crazy comeback and prompted manager Jim Leyland to call for reliever Jamie Walker.
In 7 2/3 innings, Bonderman gave up six hits, six runs, three earned, and two walks while striking out eight. He retired 17 in a row until the single by Morneau, who took second on a wild throw by shortstop Carlos Guillen and scored when Jason Kubel's chopper slid through first baseman Shelton's legs.
Mike Redmond hit another bouncer, this one down the left-field line that barely stayed fair, that went for a double and drove in Kubel.
"I was getting a drink of water, and all of a sudden Redmond's on second, it's 3-2, and I'm up," said Tyner, who followed with a high chop to first that skipped over Shelton's head for a single.
Jason Bartlett hit a grounder to third that Brandon Inge fielded, but missed tagging Redmond as he dove back into third. The ball was hit right at Redmond, who instinctually retreated when he realized he couldn't score.
Then came the balk, allowing Redmond to jog home and tie it at three. Bonderman picked up some dirt from the mound and chucked it to the turf in protest, after storming around for a few seconds.
"We stepped into the 'Twilight Zone' for an inning. It seemed like everything went wrong," Inge said.
Castillo followed with a groundout that drove in Tyner with the go-ahead run. With two outs, Cuddyer's big hit sent Bonderman to the dugout -- where he kicked a water cooler in disgust.
"We were just waiting for a break," Redmond said.
Brent Clevlen, called up from Double-A the day before, went 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs and an assist from center field in his major league debut for Detroit, which stayed 8½ games ahead of Chicago in the AL Central and had its lead over Minnesota cut to 9½ games.
Placido Polanco went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI and Magglio Ordonez hit a run-scoring double for the Tigers, who dropped to 9-3 against the Twins this season.
Both teams talked all weekend about how intense the atmosphere was and how much they respected their opponent. Leyland kept with the theme, though certainly aware his team's lead in the division is still plenty safe.
"They earned it," the manager said. "They could've quit. They were down three to nothing with their ace out of the game."
Santana struggled through the third, giving up a double to Clevlen, an RBI single to Polanco and later loading the bases with two outs on walks by Craig Monroe and Guillen.
He gave up at least one hit in each inning and left trailing 3-0 after Polanco's RBI double in the sixth. Santana threw 105 pitches and gave up nine hits and four walks while striking out only two.
Icing his arm in the clubhouse two innings later, Santana watched his teammates string together the improbable rally.
"It was a great feeling," he said.
- Rabe replaced Rondell White, who left with a tight left hamstring, in the third inning. Kubel pinch hit for Rabe in the eighth.
- Wilson played again for Ivan Rodriguez, who has a bruised right thumb and hasn't played since Tuesday.