MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — When a routine single skipped under the glove of Michael Bourn and started rolling toward the wall, things could’ve gotten ugly for the Cleveland Indians.
Zach McAllister made sure that didn’t happen.
McAllister won for the first time in almost three months, Ryan Raburn homered and the Indians beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2 on Tuesday night.
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With Minnesota down 5-1 in the sixth inning, Joe Mauer scored from first base on a single by Justin Morneau that skipped under the glove of center fielder Michael Bourn for an error and rolled all the way to the warning track.
McAllister fanned Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia to end the inning and strand Mauer at third, getting several pats on the back from teammates as he walked back to the dugout.
“Our defense has been great for us all year long. For us as pitchers, it’s our job to pick them up when they don’t always do what we expect of them,” McAllister said. “For us to be able to pick them up, it’s exciting and it’s great to know that they have our back and we have them when we need to.”
Cleveland had lost seven of its last eight and posted a 6.00 ERA during that stretch.
Coming off his worst start of the season Thursday against Detroit, McAllister (5-7) bounced back and held Minnesota to one earned run and four hits in six innings. He struck out seven in his first win since May 23.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona said the sixth inning was the highlight of McAllister’s night.
“We’re getting to a point where you’re thinking about maybe going to the bullpen,” Francona said. “He’s up around 100 pitches and guys have seen him a couple times. He executed very well there.”
Josh Willingham homered for the Twins in the second inning, Minnesota’s 23rd straight run from a home run — an MLB record.
But the Twins went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position and are now 3-for-48 in those situations over their last six games.
Mauer scoring on Bourn’s error was the first time Minnesota scored without a home run since Aug. 7.
“We can’t rely on home runs all the time,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It’s nice when we hit them but we’re going to have to drive in some of these runs with less than two outs and a man’s on third. Unfortunately we didn’t do it again tonight.”
The Indians led 3-1 in the sixth when Samuel Deduno (7-6) hit Carlos Santana in the toe with a pitch. Plate umpire Adam Hamari initially ruled that Deduno’s pitch didn’t hit him, but awarded Santana first base after conferring with the rest of his crew and changing the call.
Rayburn then lined a home run into the left-center field bleachers, a much-needed blast for a team that got shut out on Monday night by rookie Andrew Albers making his second major-league start.
“You go through stretches where you can’t get a hit. It’s not like we haven’t been swinging the bat well,” Rayburn said. “Last night, I don’t know how many great plays they made off of us. That’s part of the game.”
McAllister’s strong start was a boost for an Indians team that entered Tuesday in third place instead of second in the AL Central for the first time since June 17.
After McAllister exited, Cody Allen and Joe Smith each pitched a perfect inning. Chris Perez allowed a two-out double to Arcia in the ninth, but retired Trevor Plouffe to end the game and record his 19th save in 22 chances.
Bourn, Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley added RBIs for Cleveland.
“The game just didn’t seem like it went anywhere. I wish I had more to offer than that,” Gardenhire said. “I think about the game and nothing really happened too awfully exciting. Sammy gave up the runs, and we didn’t do anything offensively.”
NOTES: The Indians signed former Blue Jays’ No. 1 pick David Cooper to a minor league deal and sent him to their spring training complex in Goodyear, Ariz. The 26-year-old first-baseman is expected to join Triple-A Columbus later this month. … Minnesota acquired LHP Miguel Sulbaran from the Dodgers to complete the trade for C Drew Butera. The 19-year-old was 6-4 with a 3.01 ERA in 23 games for the Dodgers’ low Class A team. Minnesota GM Terry Ryan said he expects Sulbaran to be a starter in the Twins’ system. … Twins rookie Kyle Gibson (2-3, 6.43 ERA) will try to pitch more than six innings for the first time in his career in Wednesday’s series finale. … Carlos Carrasco (0-4, 7.75 ERA) starts for Cleveland and will try to win for the first time since beating Arizona on June 29, 2011. Carrasco has lost his last 10 decisions.