CLEVELAND (AP) — It was quite the anniversary for Carl Pavano, who added another strong start to his remarkable resurgence.
Pavano pitched seven innings to beat his former team, Joe Mauer had four hits and the Minnesota Twins defeated the Cleveland Indians 7-2 on Saturday.
Clinging to a 3-2 lead, Pavano (14-7) struck out Shelley Duncan to get out of a bases-loaded jam on his final pitch of the night. He allowed seven hits, struck out six and walked four exactly one year after he was traded for a player to be named later.
“They had me on the ropes, but I was able to make some pitches,” Pavano said after improving to 9-1 with a 2.62 ERA in his last 12 starts.
Following four injury-plagued years on a lucrative long-term contract with the New York Yankees, Pavano signed with the Indians for 2009 and was 9-8 with a 5.37 ERA when they sent him to Minnesota last August. Minor leaguer Yohan Pino eventually was shipped to Cleveland to complete the deal.
“The Indians gave me a chance and it was kind of a break-in year,” Pavano said. “I came over here and it has been a lot of fun. We got to the playoffs last year and here we are, in another pennant race.”
The Twins have won 11 of 14 and remained 1 games back of the AL Central-leading White Sox, who beat Baltimore 4-2.
J.J. Hardy hit a tiebreaking RBI single off Fausto Carmona (11-9) in the top of the seventh. Mauer went 4 for 5 but Minnesota lost second baseman Alexi Casilla to a left ankle injury in the third.
“He’ll get an MRI in the morning,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He got it X-rayed. That showed a bone spur. Now, we’ve got to see if there’s a fracture.”
Casilla scored from second on a single by Mauer. As he slid home ahead of the throw, Casilla appeared to jam his ankle into the left foot of catcher Chris Gimenez. Trevor Plouffe replaced Casilla in the field in the bottom half.
Plouffe broke an 0-for-18 drought with his first career homer in the eighth. The opposite-field line drive into the seats in right-center made it 4-2.
Casilla had a career-high four RBIs Friday night. He has started in place of Orlando Hudson, on the disabled list since July 24 with a right oblique strain. Hudson is eligible to be activated Sunday.
“We’re activating Hudson for sure,” Gardenhire said. “The other move (to get Hudson on the roster), we’ll see.”
Gardenhire praised Pavano, who is 19-11 in 35 starts since being acquired by the Twins.
“He knows how to pitch and he’s a leader,” Gardenhire said.
Indians manager Manny Acta agreed.
“He preyed on our aggressiveness,” Acta said. “You could see it with Duncan. He went 2-0 with the bases loaded. He never panicked. He never threw him another strike and ended up getting him out.”
Jason Kubel put Minnesota ahead 1-0 by hitting his 15th homer in the second. That gave Kubel a .400 average (12 for 30) with three homers in his career against Carmona. The next time up, Kubel was grazed in the midsection by an inside fastball from Carmona, but he went down to first without incident.
Cleveland tied it in the fourth. Shin-Soo Choo singled with one out and scored on a two-out double into the right-field corner by Jordan Brown, who had three hits. It was Brown’s first career RBI. He scored on Matt LaPorta’s sharp single to left.
Carmona gave up five runs and 10 hits over 7 1-3 innings, falling to 0-6 in his last seven starts against Minnesota.
“I don’t know,” Carmona said of struggling against Minnesota. “I pitch them the same as other teams. They hit a couple of good pitches.”
Michael Cuddyer, Danny Valencia and Kubel drove in runs against Cleveland’s bullpen over the final two innings.
NOTES: The teams honored the Negro Leagues by wearing throwback uniforms of the 1946 Cleveland Buckeyes and 1909 St. Paul (Minn.) Gophers. … Former outfielder Kenny Lofton and late general manager Cy Slapnicka were inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame before the game. Lofton got a resounding standing ovation from fans chanting, “Ken-ny, Ken-ny.” … Mauer is hitting .553 (21 for 38) with 16 RBIs in his last 10 games. … Pavano leads the AL with eight road wins.