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Indians barely hold on against Twins, 8-7

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- After scoring six runs in the first inning, the Cleveland Indians almost gave up that many runs in the last three innings but were able to survive a bullpen implosion to escape with an 8-7 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night at Progressive Field.

The win is the Indians' fourth in a row and their eighth in the last 10 games.

"We used a lot of them," said manager Terry Francona, referring to the five relievers who appeared in the game. "There were some highs and some lows but fortunately the highs won out."

Cleveland's bullpen nearly blew early leads of 6-2 and 8-3. Closer Vinnie Pestano gave up two runs, including a home run, and wobbled through a 34-pitch ninth inning to pick up his third save.

"We hung on for dear life, but we did go home happy," Francona said.

Minnesota's Chris Parmelee had a double and then two home runs, in the eighth and ninth innings, that sparked the Twins' comeback.

"Nobody should be hanging their heads," Parmelee said. "Our pitching wasn't there at the beginning, but we went out and played extremely well."

Cleveland took advantage of some epic wildness by Minnesota starting pitcher P.J. Walters in a six-run first inning. Walters walked five, hit a batter and got just two outs in the first inning before being removed from the game.

Walters gave up only one hit but was charged with six runs, thanks to all the walks.

Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis came within a home run of becoming the first Indians player in 10 years to hit for the cycle, and starter Corey Kluber pitched into the sixth inning for the win, improving his record to 6-4.

Kipnis had a single, double and triple in his first three at-bats, which all came in the first four innings. He walked and grounded out in his last two plate appearances, failing in his bid to become the first Indians player to hit for the cycle since Travis Hafner did it on Aug. 14, 2003, against the Twins at the Metrodome.

Kluber gave up three runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. In his last three starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA.

"Corey didn't command the ball as well as he has, but if that's one of his not-so-good outings, that says a lot about his growth," Francona said.

"I wasn't as sharp as I'd like to be," Kluber said, "but it was one of those games where you've got to work with what you've got."

In the first inning, six of the nine Indians batters that Walters faced drew walks or were hit by pitches. Walters threw 46 pitches and retired just two batters.

The only hit allowed by Walters in the inning was a two-run double by Kipnis. Walters retired the next batter on a fly ball but then walked four of the next five. With the bases loaded from walks, Walters walked the last batter he faced, No. 9 hitter Drew Stubbs, forcing in a run.

Walters was removed from the game having thrown only 18 of the 46 pitches for strikes.

Indians leadoff hitter Michael Bourn, in his second plate appearance of the inning, greeted reliever Anthony Swarzak with a two-run single, giving the Indians 6-2 lead. Walters and Swarzak combined to throw 52 pitches in the bottom of the first.

Minnesota scored its first two runs on a two-run homer by Joe Mauer off Kluber in the top of the first.

Oswaldo Arcia's home run leading off the top of the fourth cut the Cleveland lead to 6-3, but the Indians got RBI hits from Stubbs and Bourn in the fifth to extend the lead to 8-3.

The only Cleveland reliever who pitched well was lefty Rich Hill, who with two on in the eighth and the Indians' lead down to 8-5, struck out Mauer and Ryan Doumit to end that threat.

"Our bullpen did a fantastic job and our hitters gave us a chance at the end, which was fun to watch," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We just came up a little short because you can't fall behind that big, that early."

NOTES: Indians 1B Nick Swisher, who hasn't played in a game since June 15 because of a sore left shoulder, probably will be in the starting lineup Sunday, Francona said. ... Carlos Carrasco, who will start Sunday for Cleveland, has a 1.82 ERA in four starts against Minnesota, his lowest ERA vs. any major league opponent. ... The Twins have turned 83 double plays this season, the most in the American League. ... Twins rookie reliever Caleb Thielbar has not allowed a run in 12 appearances this season, covering 13 2/3 innings during which he has allowed just five hits.
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