Victory in Minnesota's interminable Senate race moved within Democrat Al Franken's reach yesterday when the former Saturday Night Live comedian increased his lead over Republican Norm Coleman as the recount drew to a close, the Associated Press reports. Franken increased his lead to from a 49- to a 225-vote advantage after gaining 176 more than Coleman in Saturday's appraisal of absentee ballots. Unless Coleman wins a court petition seeking to add hundreds more ballots to the recount, the state canvassing board will sign off on Monday or Tuesday. ''This is so accurate and has been done so carefully that the person with the least votes is going to say, 'I'm disappointed, I'm sad, but I came in short this time,''' said Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. But then he is a Democrat. The Republicans may have other ideas.