Twins 13, Indians 6

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CLEVELAND (AP)—Torii Hunter and the Minnesota Twins headed home in first place.

Hunter tied his career high with five RBIs as the Twins defeated the Cleveland Indians 13-6 Monday night and took sole possession of the AL Central lead for the first time since June 30.

“I’m so pumped up for every series, every game right now,” Hunter said. “We’re playing good ball. It’s the right time of year for that.”

Hunter, Michael Ryan and Cristian Guzman each drove in two runs during an eight-run sixth inning. Hunter added a three-run homer in the ninth off Terry Mulholland, giving him 99 RBIs, a career high.

Minnesota won three straight after losing the series opener.

“Mission accomplished. We’re going home with the lead,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’ll see what happens now. This is where you want to be, in the pennant race at the end. We’re excited.”

Minnesota (81-69) moved a half-game ahead of idle Chicago (80-69). The defending AL Central champions, 37-20 since the All-Star break, begin a three-game series Tuesday against the White Sox, the start of an eight-game homestand.

“It’s going to be tough because they are pumped up, just like us,” Hunter said. “We can’t think of sweeping them. That would be great, but we’ve got to take two of three.”

Johan Santana (11-3) improved to 7-0 in nine starts since July 29 as the Twins won for the 10th time in 13 games. He gave up four runs—three earned— and four hits in five-plus innings.

“Santana sat for like about three hours during that big inning, so he had to come out,” Gardenhire said. “Cleveland kept swinging the bats. They played us tough, so this win really was huge.”

Jason Davis (8-11) allowed seven runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings, dropping to 1-5 in 11 starts since June 29.

Shannon Stewart’s RBI double put Minnesota ahead in the third, but the Indians tied it in the bottom half when Chris Magruder hit his first homer since July 21 last year.

Cleveland made it 2-1 in the fourth on a two-out RBI double by Victor Martinez.

A fielding play on an infield single led to the eight-run sixth.

Stewart drew a one-out walk and Luis Rivas, in an 0-for-22 slump, chopped a ball to the side of the mound. Davis stretched out his full 6-foot-6 frame to snare it with a backhand dive but hit Rivas with his throw to first for an error.

“Jason’s a good fielder, but he was overly aggressive and tried to do too much,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.

That play left runners on second and third, Doug Mientkiewicz walked and Jacque Jones followed with a sharp single to right. Rivas was thrown out at the plate by Alex Escobar.

Corey Koskie was intentionally walked to reload the bases, and Hunter grounded a two-run double just inside the third-base line for a 4-2 lead. A.J. Pierzynski then singled home Koskie.

Ryan added a two-run single and Guzman a two-run homer—both off reliever Rafael Betancourt.

“I made the bad throw, and things just snowballed,” Davis said. “A good throw, he’s out, and maybe we get out of the inning with minimal damage.”

Ryan, hit in the head by a fly ball the previous day, made a leaping catch at the wall in right to rob Martinez’s bid for a three-run homer in the sixth. Ben Broussard had a sacrifice fly, and another run scored on an error by Koskie at third.

Koskie’s RBI single made it 10-4 in the seventh, but Cleveland got a two runs in the bottom half on Travis Hafner’s RBI groundout and Escobar’ssacrifice fly.

Notes

Hunter had five RBIs for the third time, the first since May 21 last year. … Indians bench coach Buddy Bell was ejected by second-base umpire Wally Bell after the fifth inning for arguing from the dugout. … Santana is 3-0 in his career against Cleveland. He is 7-1 with a 2.07 ERA this year in 19 road appearances, including six starts. … Minnesota is 7-0-2 in its last nineseries since dropping three of four games to Cleveland on July 3-6.

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