Indians 4, Twins 1

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Though they’re stuck in fourth place, the Cleveland Indians have something the Minnesota Twins are desperately lacking.

An ace.

C.C. Sabathia threw a four-hitter and Jody Gerut homered to help the Indians hand the stumbling Twins their fourth straight defeat, 4-1 on Thursday night.

Shane Spencer went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for Cleveland, which won the first meeting of the season between the AL Central foes and saw Sabathia win his fourth straight decision.

“He’s been our guy all year,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “Even though he’s only 22, he’s a guy who steps up when we need him to.”

In his first complete game this season and the third of his career, Sabathia (8-3) walked one and struck out five.

“I feel good—I still feel like I can pitch right now,” Sabathia said afterward.

Matthew LeCroy homered in the ninth to break up the shutout bid, but Minnesota fell to 5-14 in its last 19 games.

And it wasn’t the first time over the past few weeks that the Twins’ lack of fire angered manager Ron Gardenhire.

Gardenhire—given an automatic ejection in the seventh after Kenny Rogers retaliated for two hit batsmen by Sabathia by hitting Milton Bradley with a pitch— was mad that his team didn’t respond to what he felt were intentional beanings by Cleveland’s 6-foot-7, 290-pound pitcher.

“That was a very uninspiring baseball game,” Gardenhire said. “I know C.C. Sabathia pitched very well, but we did nothing, really, until Kenny Rogers finally took the bull by the horns.”

Sabathia hit Corey Koskie on the elbow with a pitch in the first and Bobby Kielty on the back of the shoulder in the fifth. Umpire Eric Cooper warned both benches after Sabathia hit Kielty.

Rogers was tossed after plunking Bradley with two outs and one on in the seventh.

Sabathia defended himself.

“I was just pitching inside and being aggressive,” he said. “I’ve never thrown at anyone intentionally and I never will, so obviously they took it the wrong way.”

Gardenhire said some roster changes would have to be made.

“If we don’t find it one night, we’ll find it the next,” he said.

The Twins’ rotation should’ve been a strength this season, but their starters have victories in just three of their last 19 outings. During that stretch, their ERA is 7.64.

Rogers, the only one who’s showed any consistency the past month, pitched well—but not quite well enough to win.

Rogers (7-4) gave up three runs, six hits and four walks in 6 2-3 innings.

Coco Crisp started the game with a bunt single, reaching when backpedaling first baseman LeCroy couldn’t stretch his leg back far enough to touch the bag after the toss from Rogers.

Lew Ford, giving designated hitter Torii Hunter a rest in center field, misjudged Bradley’s double to the warning track that scored Crisp.

Rogers got two outs in the third before walking two in a row, and Spencer’s single drove in former Twin Matt Lawton to put the Indians up 2-0.

Rogers had Crisp picked off first following a single, but LeCroy couldn’t get the ball out of his glove and the throw to second was a little late. With two outs, Crisp scored on a single by Spencer.

“You make your own breaks,” Rogers said. “They did that, and they took advantage of them.”

Meanwhile, Sabathia was cruising. The only real threat came in the second.

LeCroy led off with a single, Dustan Mohr walked and Ford sacrificed themover, but Tom Prince struck out and Luis Rivas grounded out.

Notes

Gerut homered off Grant Balfour leading off the eighth. … With 18 meetings left, the Twins and Indians will play nearly one-fourth of their remaining games against each other. … Plate umpire Bill Hohn was hit in the mask by a foul ball in the second, and he switched to second base for the next inning. Cooper moved from first to behind the plate. … It was Gardenhire’s fifth ejection of the season and the ninth of his two-year career. … Minnesota LF Jacque Jones (groin) and 1B Doug Mientkiewicz (toe) sat out, andPrince gave A.J. Pierzynski a break behind the plate.

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