CLEVELAND (AP) — The Minnesota Twins couldn’t solve Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber. They had no trouble knocking around All-Star closer Chris Perez.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s go-ahead sacrifice fly was part of a three-run ninth inning against Perez, lifting the Twins to a 7-5 victory over Cleveland on Tuesday night. It was the Indians’ 11th straight loss, one shy of their franchise record set from May 7-21, 1931.
Minnesota, which trailed 5-1 heading into the seventh against Kluber, scored six runs over the final three innings to give rookie reliever Tyler Robertson (1-0) his first major league win. Glen Perkins worked a perfect ninth for his seventh save.
Cleveland aided the rally by committing three infield errors, which accounted for five of the Twins’ final six runs being unearned.
“We got some breaks tonight and had a couple of things go our way, but we kept battling,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “To put together a ninth inning like that against a guy who throws pretty damn hard like Perez, it was a good day for the ballclub.”
Perez (0-4) entered in the top of the ninth with the Indians holding a 5-4 lead, but blew his second save in three days by allowing four hits and three runs (one earned) in two-thirds of an inning.
Minnesota tied the game with one out when Justin Morneau hit a hard grounder to first baseman Casey Kotchman, who fumbled it into short right field, scoring Darin Mastroianni from second. Ryan Doumit followed with a double to move Morneau to third, setting up Nishioka’s fly to left.
“I was able to get into the at-bat with confidence, knowing a pop-up to the outfield would get a run in from third,” said Nishioka, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Monday. “It was big for me.”
One batter later, Brian Dozier’s bloop single to left brought Doumit around to put the Twins up 7-5.
Robertson earned the victory with two innings of scoreless work as the Twins beat the Indians for the seventh straight time. Cleveland has not won since July 26 and has been outscored 95-36 in its last 11 games.
“When it’s going bad, that’s what happens,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “That’s the way the ball bounces — and it’s not bouncing right in any way, shape or form.”
Minnesota’s comeback began in the seventh, when it scored three unearned runs to cut its deficit to 5-4. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera allowed Jamey Carroll to reach base with the first miscue, while second baseman Jason Kipnis had a Morneau grounder go right through his legs with two outs, scoring Carroll and Joe Mauer.
Doumit had three hits, while Carroll and Dozier had two apiece for the Twins. Revere went 1 for 4 to extend his career-high hitting streak to 21 games. It is the longest by a Minnesota player since Torii Hunter hit in 23 straight in 2007.
“It would not be fun to pitch against our team right now,” Perkins said. “This whole game is kind of how our season has gone. We dug a pretty big hole, but we’ve kept fighting out of it.”
Rookie right-hander Samuel Deduno started and went four shaky innings, allowing four runs on five hits and five walks. The big blow came in the second, when Shelley Duncan belted a two-run homer that gave the Indians a 3-1 lead.
Cabrera added an RBI single later in the second for Cleveland, while Carlos Santana doubled home the Indians’ final run in the sixth off Jeff Manship.
Minnesota had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single by Morneau that scored Revere.
“Physically, I feel pretty good, but I didn’t have very good luck today,” Deduno said. “My tempo was not fast enough today.”
The game was momentarily halted in the seventh when Mauer was struck in the throat while attempting to stop a bouncing pitch by Tyler Robertson. He remained in the game.
NOTES: Twins RHP Carl Pavano (right rotator cuff, 60-day DL) allowed one run in two innings Tuesday for Single-A Fort Myers against Jupiter, while RHP P.J. Walters (right shoulder inflammation, 60-day DL) will pitch Thursday for Triple-A Rochester. … Minnesota 3B Trevor Plouffe (bruised right thumb, 15-day DL) fielded ground balls and ran the bases before the game. Gardenhire said he will work in the batting cage Wednesday. … A second-inning throwing error Monday by Indians 2B Jason Kipnis has been changed to a fielding error by 1B Carlos Santana. It does not affect any earned runs. … Twins LHP Brian Duensing (2-6) faces Indians RHP Justin Masterson (7-10) in the series finale Wednesday at 12:05 p.m.