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Indians' Masterson has no-hit bid halted in 7th

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- Cleveland Indians starter Justin Masterson took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and ended up yielding just one hit against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Sunday in the final game of the series.

Masterson struck out eight, as the Indians beat the Twins 7-1 and avoided a series sweep.

Masterson's bid for a no-hitter ended in the seventh, when Twins leadoff hitter Brian Dozier blooped a broken-bat double into the outfield that center fielder Drew Stubbs could not reach.

"It was great," Masterson said of Stubbs' effort on the ball. "[The pitch] was in on [Dozier's] hands and sounded like a broken bat -- those are always hard ones to read. So [Stubbs] gave it every effort he could. In the end we get a victory. That's what I want."

Masterson lost the shutout two batters later when Jason Kipnis booted Joe Mauer's grounder and Dozier scored.

The Twins halted the no-hitter, but it was far too little, too late against an Indians team that banged out nine hits and hit the ball hard all afternoon.

The recent struggles of Twins starter Scott Diamond continued, as the Indians got to him early.

Diamond gave up a one-out walk to Mark Reynolds in the second inning and a fielder's choice put Reynolds in scoring position. Ryan Raburn singled to left to move Reynolds to third, and Reynolds scored on Mike Aviles' sacrifice fly to right.

The Indians grabbed a 3-0 lead in the third inning when Asdrubal Cabrera reached on a Trevor Plouffe error and Jason Kipnis hit a ball that just climbed over the left field wall for a two-run home run. It was Kipnis' second homer in as many days.

"When he's not doing well, he's getting behind in the count and he's forced to have to throw strikes and get the ball up a little bit," Twins acting manager Terry Steinbach said of Diamond's performance. "That was kind of evident today, being behind in the count, having to throw the ball over in hitters' counts and hitters are doing what they are supposed to do to those pitches -- they're hitting them hard."

The Indians continued to hit Diamond in the fifth, as left fielder Clete Thomas pulled a sure Cabrera homer back from the left-field fence.

But Diamond walked Kipnis and gave up singles to Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana to load the bases. Michael Brantley cleared them with a two-out triple to the wall and ended Diamond's day.

"It was great," Masterson said of the run support by his teammates. "Putting up a couple runs early. Kipnis doing his thing with another homer. And then Michael Brantley, Mr. Clutch, just doing his thing -- runners in scoring position with two outs. He bats like .500 now in that situation."

Diamond, who has struggled to find his form from last season, threw 91 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and three walks while getting no strikeouts.

"Both [command and overthinking] were an issue today," Diamond said. "My stuff was really bad. Coming out of the pen, I felt like everything was going to be good. First inning went OK; second inning went OK. After that, everything started to slip. I tried to overdo some things and it kind of led to what happened. But I was one pitch away in the fifth, and it's just frustrating that I just couldn't get that last out."

After getting out of the seventh, Masterson was lifted, but his masterful performance kept the Twins guessing all afternoon. He pitched seven innings, giving up one run on one hit, one hit batter and no walks.

"I thought he came out a little strong because of it [an extended layoff]," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Masterson, who hadn't pitched a game since July 10. "He had tremendous pop on his fastball. He threw a lot of strikes. It took him awhile to find his slider. But his two-seamer had a lot of movement on it -- it had a lot of life. But I thought that was a long layoff for him, but I thought he managed it real well."

C.C. Lee relieved Masterson in the eighth and shut down the Twins. The Indians added an insurance run in the ninth for Chris Perez, who gave up one hit before closing out the 7-1 win.

NOTES: The Indians' pitching staff has not allowed a home run in 87 consecutive innings (nine full games), the longest streak since a 96-inning streak in 1992. ... The Twins are 13-15 in one-run games this season, winning the last two by a 3-2 margin over Cleveland. ... Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was at Target Field for the game, but remained in his office with the stomach ailment that forced him from the previous game. Bench coach Terry Steinbach managed the team.
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