MINNEAPOLIS - The Cleveland Indians didn't exactly batter the baseball all around Target Field in Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. Even a rare defensive mistake led to an unearned run and nearly touched off a threat.
That's when the pitching staff, anchored by a revitalized Zach McAllister, came through and kept the Twins from getting any closer.
The crucial point came in the sixth inning, when center fielder Michael Bourne muffed Justin Morneau's hard-hit single to allow Joe Mauer to score from first. Suddenly, Cleveland's lead was down to three and Mauer was on third with just one out.
McAllister, who hadn't won a game since May 23rd, struck out Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia to end the threat, and the bullpen took over from there.
"It's our job to pick them up," said McAllister, who struck out seven and walked one while allowing just one earned run. "It makes the pitchers feel good to know that they have our back and we can get them when we need to."
Three relief pitchers allowed just one baserunner over the last three innings, with Chris Perez closing it out for his 19th save in 22 chances. It was McAllister's first win over the Twins in four appearances.
"Their guy kept painting the corners against our righties, he basically stopped us, and the game didn't seem like it went anywhere," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
Cleveland's offense was able to take advantage of the usual wildness of Twins starter Samuel Deduno. They chipped away with single runs in the third, fourth and fifth. In the sixth, Deduno hit Carlos Santana in the foot with a pitch, and the very next offering to Ryan Rayburn wound up in the seats.
"He left me a breaking ball up that I was able to get enough wood on and it carried out of there," said Rayburn. "I was just trying to get a good pitch.
It was good enough to change the tone of the game.
"That was the big at-bat in the game, the last two runs they got," said Gardenhire.
The Indians, who were shut out on two hits by Andrew Albers on Monday, loaded the bases against Deduno in the third and got a run home on a fielder's choice. Nick Swisher then hit a rocket that was caught by Joe Mauer, who stepped on the first base bag for a double play. Swisher threw his bat and batting helmet in disgust at the lost opportunity.
The Tribe went ahead in the fourth on Michael Brantley's RBI single and added a run in the fifth on a groundout by Jason Kipnis.
Minnesota had broken on top with Josh Willingham's upper-deck home run in the second off McAllister. That gave Minnesota 23 consecutive runs via the long ball. The last time the Twins scored without the benefit of a homer was in the fourth inning of last Wednesday's game at Kansas City.
The Twins broke that streak when Mauer scored in the sixth on an error by Indians center fielder Michael Bourne.
NOTES: Twins catcher Ryan Doumit worked out on the field before the game and could come off the seven-day concussion disabled list on Thursday. ... The Twins acquired LHP Miguel Sulbaran from the Los Angeles Dodgers and sent him to Class A Cedar Rapids, completing the trade that shipped C Drew Butera to Los Angeles. ... Cleveland DH Carlos Santana, who caught Deduno for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, is 0-for-11 in his career against the right-hander. ... The Indians started the game in third place in the American League Central for the first time since June 17.