Albers leadsTwins past Indians

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Joe Oberle, The Sports Xchange
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MINNEAPOLIS -- In his second career start, rookie Andrew Albers pitched a complete game shutout as the Minnesota Twins beat the Cleveland Indians 3-0 at Target Field on Monday night.

Albers, spotted to an early three-run lead, kept the Indians off balance with mid-80s fastball and offspeed pitches in the 70s. He was nearly perfect, throwing 102 pitches in nine innings, giving up no runs, two hits and no walks and two strike outs.

"Unfortunately for us, that kid put on a clinic," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He doesn't overwhelm you with stuff. But he's pitched 17 1/3 major league innings and he's given up six hits, one walk. He doesn't have an ERA yet. He attacks the strike zone with all of his pitches at any count."

The Twins could only muster four hits, but two of them were home runs, which accounted for all the runs in Monday's game. Including the weekend, the Twins have scored their last 22 runs on homers.

Defensively, middle infielders Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon and each outfielder made plays to take away potential hits from the Indians.

"I think you saw a wonderful defensive night for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Normally that goes hand-in-hand when a pitcher is out there working quick. He keeps everybody in the game; the guys are moving around and having some fun. We made a lot of really nice defensive plays there for him."

Indians starter Danny Salazar gave up two early home runs and lasted only four innings. He never seemed comfortable and after walking the bases loaded in the fourth and getting out of that jam, his night was over.

"I thought he was a little less crisp than his last outing," Francona said. "The outing against Detroit he was pumped up and he got deep into the game. So we did kind of want to keep him short. He had the long fourth inning, so we just decided that this kid is going to be pitching for a long time and thought to give him a little bit of a blow rather than grind through one more inning -- because I don't' have any doubt he could have got through it."

Marc Rzepczynski relieved Salazar in the fifth and along with fellow relievers Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen, Cleveland shut down the Twins rest of the way.

Collectively, they did not give up a run and allowed one hit and issued two walks.

But the Indians could not figure out Albers, who picked up his second win in as many games and his first career shutout.

Dozier led off the game by hitting the second pitch from Salazar into the left field seats. It was Dozier's 12th homer of the year and his second leadoff homer of the season.

"He's been playing really well for us on defense, offense. He's been one of our better players in the last few months," Gardenhire said.

Oswaldo Arcia, who had three homers in three games in Chicago last weekend, beat out an infield hit up the middle in the second. He scored on Trevor Plouffe's 11th homer of the season.

"It's nice because Trevor has been struggling so much," Gardenhire said of the Plouffe's homer. "It's nice to see a smile on his face knowing he contributed offensively. We need his offense, we need his bat, so hopefully that's a good start for us."

Albers, on the heels of his first career start, in which he threw 8 1/3 scoreless Aug. 6 at Kansas City, retired the first 11 Cleveland batters he faced Monday.

"It's pretty unbelievable," Albers said. "I didn't think it could better from the last start now here we are again. It did. It actually got a little bit better. It's another one of those nights when things kind of went my way. "

NOTES: The Twins hit 11 home runs in the four-game series with the White Sox, the most of any major league team in a single series this season. ... Entering Monday, the Cleveland pitching staff had posted a 3.05 ERA and given up only 10 home runs over the club's 30 games since July 8. ... The Indians began the night averaging 4.85 runs per game on the road, the second-best figure in the AL and third best in baseball. ... The Twins activated OF Wilkin Ramirez from the disabled list to replace INF Jamey Carroll, who was traded to the Royals on Sunday. Ramirez had been out since late May due to a concussion.