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Indians hang on, retain lead for second wild card

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Cleveland Indians' result was effective Thursday, though the route was rocky.

With little margin for error in the American League wild-card race, the Indians moved a step closer to their goal of the reaching the playoffs with a 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Thursday night.

The Indians built a 5-0 lead, but the Twins scored four times in the ninth inning to make it close.

Cleveland (89-70) holds a one-game lead on the Texas Rangers (88-71) in the race for the second wild card. The Tampa Bay Rays (90-69) lead the Indians by one game. All three teams won Thursday, and all three have three games remaining in the regular season.

Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes each had three hits and two RBIs for Cleveland. Gomes hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning.

Ryan Doumit led Minnesota with three hits. Alex Presley, Josmil Pinto, Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Escobar each collected two of Minnesota's 13 hits. Pinto hit a ninth-inning homer.

The Twins' season-long problem of poor at-bats with runners in scoring position continued. Minnesota went 2-for-12 in those situations.

Bryan Shaw (7-3) earned the win by throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He was the second of seven Cleveland pitchers.

Closer Chris Perez entered with a 6-1 lead in the ninth, but he couldn't seal the victory. Perez gave up four runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning. Indians manager Terry Francona said he wanted to get Perez some work after a previous bad outing but "it didn't go as planned."

"The good news is we won, and that's what we set out to do," Francona said. "That got a little closer than we wanted, but we won. Anytime you hear music playing (in the locker room), especially this time of the year ... but that was a little nerve-racking."

After Pinto's two-run homer cut Cleveland's lead to one, Joe Smith replaced Perez, and he gave up an infield hit to Plouffe and walked Chris Colabello. Smith struck out pinch hitter Oswaldo Arcia to earn his third save of the season.

"We stayed in the game and got some excitement there in the ninth inning," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had a pretty good situation, we liked running Arcia up there at the end. You'd like to see him put the ball in play there and see what happens.

"The guys kept playing, which is always nice to see. You like to finish, and you like the way they got after it. We just needed one more hit."

Indians starter Zach McAllister was on a short leash. He threw just 68 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, giving up no runs on six hits and two walks before Shaw replaced him.

"I think it was his right side was kind of stiff. He was having a hard time getting out all the way to extension," Francona said of McAllister. "And he was kind of dodging traffic the whole night. His heart's in the right place. I just thought that he had given us enough and it wouldn't be fair to him to let him give up runs. I just thought it was time. If I had been managing with my heart, I would have left him in. Just don't think that's the time to do that."

Twins starter Andrew Albers had an up-and-down performance. In 5 2/3 innings, he gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks.

"I thought he hung in there pretty good," Gardenhire said. "He's a game-on kid. I like him. I like the way he goes about his business. I like the way he attacks. It was a good baseball team playing aggressive baseball right now, and he did a decent job for us."

NOTES: The Indians play three more times in Minnesota this weekend. Texas plays three more home games against the Los Angeles Angels, and Tampa Bay finishes with a three-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto. ... Fifteen times this season, Minnesota was shut out, the franchise's highest single-season total since 1961 and the highest total in the American League this year. ... Before Thursday, Minnesota committed 76 errors this season, tied for the third fewest in Twins/Senators franchise history (since 1901). The Twins made two more errors in the loss.
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