Indians 13, Twins 2

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Cleveland’s Casey Blake had a career night against his former team, and Minnesota starter Joe Mays was knocked out of the rotation.

Blake went 5-for-5 with two homers and seven RBIs, leading the Indians past the struggling Twins 13-2 Saturday night.

“Somebody would be lying if they said that doing it against your old team doesn’t feel good,” he said.

Matt Lawton—another former Twin—and Milton Bradley homered for the Indians, who got seven solid innings from starter Brian Anderson (6-6).

The left-hander won his third straight decision, allowing two runs and six hits, four for extra bases. He walked two and struck out four.

Matthew LeCroy and Corey Koskie hit solo homers for the Twins, who have lost 15 of 21 and again failed to build momentum from an emotional win—a 9-2 victory over Cleveland on Friday that featured a bench-clearing scuffle and five ejections.

The Twins beat Kansas City 16-2 on June 19, then lost the next two to Milwaukee. An 11th-inning comeback victory over the Chicago White Sox 6-5 on June 25 was followed by two straight defeats. And a 10th-inning rally past the Brewers last Sunday preceded four consecutive losses.

“Another pretty tough night,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Blake set career highs for hits and RBIs. He hit a two-run double off Mays (8-6) in the first inning, an RBI single in the third and a double in the fifth. Blake added a solo homer off Grant Balfour in the seventh and a three-run shot off J.C. Romero in the ninth.

“I think I’ve reached the point where I’m mad if I’m not in the lineup,” Blake said. “I just want to matter, and I want to contribute.”

Blake, a journeyman who got 58 at-bats with the Twins from 2000-02, has 10 homers and 35 RBIs as the Indians’ starting third baseman this year. He made the team as a non-roster invitee to spring training.

“He’s been outstanding for us defensively throughout the course of the season and has done nothing but ramp up offensively,” manager Eric Wedge said. “Continues to get better.”

Mays lasted only 50 pitches and three innings, allowing six hits, five runs and a walk as his ERA climbed to 6.57.

Johan Santana, who’s 4-1 with a 2.86 ERA in 30 appearances (three starts), will replace him in the rotation Friday at Anaheim.

“Maybe we can get Jo-Jo straightened out and go from there,” said Gardenhire, whose starters have a 7.44 ERA and just four wins in their last 20 games. “We’ve had a lot of problems right now with our starting staff. Everyone knows it. They know it.”

Neither Mays nor Santana were available afterward in a near-deserted clubhouse.

“It’s not stuff—it’s confidence,” said pitching coach Rick Anderson, who dismissed any lingering elbow problems as a factor in Mays’ struggles. “That’s not even an issue now.”

Lawton hit an opposite-field homer with one out in the first, Blake doubled in two runs and Tim Laker drove in another with a groundout to put the Indians up 4-0 after one.

With two outs and one on in the third, Mays gave up a single to Blake that left fielder Dustan Mohr scooped on one hop. The throw home, up the line, bounced in front of catcher A.J. Pierzynski and skidded away for an error on Mohr as Ben Broussard scored from second to make it 5-0.

Mays, who signed a $20 million, four-year contract in January 2002 and spent half of last season on the disabled list with an elbow injury, has made quality starts (six innings or more, three runs or fewer) in just seven of 18 outings this year.

He’s given up 18 runs over his last three starts, lasting a total of 8 2-3 innings.

Santana gave up a two-out RBI single to Lawton and a two-run homer to Bradley in the fourth that put Cleveland up 8-1. Brandon Phillips drove in a run in the fifth with a single.

Santana gave up six hits and four runs in three innings, though he struck out six.

“We were hoping he could come in and get some confidence, but he couldn’tdo it either,” Gardenhire said.

Notes

Lawton was with Minnesota from 1996 until a 2001 trade sent him to the New York Mets, who later dealt him to Cleveland. … Coco Crisp’s streak of seven straight times reaching base to start the game for Cleveland ended. He’s bunted on the first pitch in each game this series. … The Twins’ total of 57double plays ranks last in baseball. Cleveland’s 101 leads the majors.

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