MINNEAPOLIS -- They aren't All-Stars for nothing.
Three days after representing Minnesota in New York City at the All-Star Game, Joe Mauer drilled a single to score the go-ahead run and Glen Perkins was lights-out for the save to lift the Twins past Cleveland 3-2 for their third straight win.
"Hoping to get something to hit," said Mauer, who laced a two-out, 2-2 pitch in the eighth inning from Joe Smith into center field to score Pedro Florimon from third base.
It was sort of a surprise that Smith (4-1) threw anything close to the plate in that situation. Putting Mauer on first would have set up a force at second with Smith facing Justin Morneau, who usually has trouble against left-handers.
"It was good that they pitched to Joe, gave him a chance," said Perkins, who retired the side in order for his 22nd save in 24 chances, striking out Mark Reynolds to end the game. "Thank you for that. We scraped by and got enough."
Indians manager Terry Francona had a conference with Smith and the Cleveland infielders before Mauer's pivotal at-bat, but pitching around him wasn't discussed.
"You put more guys on, I guess the question would be why would you?" Francona said. "They could do a lot of things."
Florimon scored twice and made like Superman to catch a ninth-inning blooper toward left by Michael Brantley and giving the win to reliever Casey Fien (2-2).
Cleveland remains 1 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central after the Tigers lost at Kansas City 1-0.
The Minnesota comeback against the Indians' bullpen wasted a solid effort by Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir. He did not allow an earned run in six innings, giving up two hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
The unearned runs were what killed Kazmir and the Tribe.
Kazmir was sailing along with two outs in the sixth when he appeared to hurt himself while pitching to Florimon. Kasmir stayed in the game and walked Florimon, with Brian Dozier reaching on an error and both coming around on a two-out single by Trevor Plouffe to tie the score at 2.
"In a game like that, you don't give them extra outs, it came back to haunt us," Francona said.
The Indians broke out on top in the third against Minnesota starter Mike Pelfrey with a two-run double by Michael Bourne. Cleveland threatened in the fifth against Pelfrey, who struck out Asdrubal Cabrera with two on to end the inning.
Minnesota had a tough time getting started against Kazmir. The left-hander retired the first seven batters he faced, and the streak could have been longer had Cabrera come up with Clete Thomas' semi-line drive to shortstop in the third. Cabrera backed up and tried to short-hop the ball, which tipped off his glove and skittered into left field.
NOTES: For the third straight year, the Indians begin play after the All-Star Break on the road. ... After Kazmir kept the Twins from scoring an earned run, Cleveland starting pitchers are now 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA in the team's last nine games. ... INF Doug Bernier, who was called up by the Twins from Class Triple-A Rochester on Sunday, went 0-for-4 in two games with Colorado in 2008 in his only previous big-league appearance. ... Plouffe batted second for the first time this season.