DETROIT, OCT. 10 -- Minnesota catcher Tim Laudner had the pitcher he wanted. Manager Tom Kelly had the situation he wanted. Jeff Reardon threw the pitch he wanted.

And Pat Sheridan just hit it out.

Every Twin involved with Sheridan's two-run homer, the climactic play in the Detroit Tigers' 7-6 victory over Minnesota today, said that they couldn't have asked for better conditions with the game on the line. They had Reardon, tied for second in the American League with 31 saves, on the mound. And they had Sheridan, not known for his power, at the plate with one out and one on.

But Sheridan turned inside on Reardon's high fastball and drove it deep into the right field seats, just as the Twins were beginning to believe they would take a three games-to-none lead with a crazy come-from-behind victory.

Reardon's most effective pitch is a fastball that starts at the waist and rises out of the strike zone. That's what he threw to Sheridan.

"He just hit my best pitch," Reardon said. "I didn't even see it. I knew it was gone. He hit it good. That would have been out of a lot of ballparks. That wasn't a cheap home run."

"I know I played in 140 games this year," Sheridan said, "but I really didn't feel like I played at all. It was hard, but I'm glad I was able to contribute today."

Of Sheridan's six homers this season, four have been at Tiger Stadium. And three of the four have come against the Twins, including his last one, Aug. 20, off Keith Atherton.

Today, Laudner, brought into the game in the seventh inning, said the last thing the Twins were expecting was for Sheridan to pull the ball. "Here's a guy who's been hitting it to left field all year, and I've got my best power pitcher on the mound," Laudner said. "It didn't get too much of the plate. He just got too much wood on it."

Kelly was second-guessed by some for bringing in Reardon to pitch the eighth inning. Set-up man Juan Berenguer had come on in the seventh with one on and the tying run at first, and gotten the heart of the Tigers' lineup out.

But Kelly said Berenguer was a little wild in his one-inning stint, and he wanted Reardon on the mound.

"Jeff's well rested, and I wanted him to pitch two innings," Kelly said. "He just gave up a home run, that's all. He's not Superman. His good days have outnumbered his bad days for the Minnesota Twins."

Reardon expected to get the ball. "I've done it all year," he said. "Why should I be surprised?"

Reardon was also cognizant that the leadoff single he gave up to Larry Herndon, a right-handed batter, made Sheridan's homer a game-winner instead of tying it.

"If I didn't give up the hit to Herndon, maybe we would have won the game," said Reardon, who held right-handed hitters to a .158 average during the regular season. "I'm not supposed to give up hits to right-handers. He hit the same pitch {as Sheridan}, a high fastball."

Some of the hurt from the loss was removed, most Twins said, because of the way they battled back from a 5-0 third-inning deficit to take a 6-5 lead going into the eighth.

"I would think so," Kelly said. "You've got Walt Terrell {with eight straight victories, 11 straight wins at Tiger Stadium and a 32-7 lifetime mark at Tiger Stadium} up there, with a five-run lead, you've got to think you've got no chance."

But the Twins came back, with two runs in the fourth, a two-run homer from Tom Brunansky in the sixth and two more in the seventh to chase Terrell, who never has lost to Minnesota in Detroit.

Reardon said he would think about the pitch, second-guessing his selection. "Maybe I should have started him off with a curveball," he said. "They tell you not to do that but you end up doing it."

Sunday, Frank Viola will go on three days rest to try to nail down that third win for the Twins. He said he won't have much trouble with the expected cold weather.

"I'm from New York, so I'm used to it," he said. "Having grown up in that kind of situation, I think I'll be able to handle it pretty good."

And if need be, Kelly will put the ball in his top reliever's hand again. "He's our man," Kelly said of Reardon. "He's going to get the ball and he'll get it again tomorrow."

"It's make or break," Viola said, "and sometimes, you get broken."