CLEVELAND (AP) — Joe Mauer knows how to break out of a slump.
Mauer, who entered Saturday night’s game in an 0 for 10 skid, had three hits and three RBIs, including a two-run homer, to lead the Minnesota Twins to a 7-4 win over the Cleveland Indians.
“I was making good contact,” Mauer said. “I felt pretty good.”
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Mauer had an RBI single in Minnesota’s four-run first inning. He also singled in the second and hit a two-run homer in the seventh off Tony Sipp.
Trevor Plouffe’s one-out homer in the sixth off Josh Tomlin (2-3) broke a 4-all tie. Plouffe also had a two-run single in the first.
Brian Duensing (1-2) pitched two scoreless innings as the Twins won for the fourth time in five games. Matt Capps pitched the ninth for his 11th save as Minnesota’s bullpen pitched 4 2-3 innings of one-hit ball.
The Indians have lost six of eight, due primarily to poor starting pitching. Cleveland’s starters are 2-6 with a 9.52 ERA in the last eight games.
Following the game the Indians announced outfielder Johnny Damon has been placed on the paternity list to be with his wife and twin daughters. Manager Manny Acta said Damon will rejoin the team Wednesday in Detroit. First baseman/outfielder Matt LaPorta will be called up from Triple-A Columbus.
Mauer was behind the plate Saturday for the first time since being hit in the face mask with a foul tip Monday. Manager Ron Gardenhire has been using the former batting champion at first base and DH to save wear and tear on Mauer.
“Lately it’s been good to give your body a little break,” Mauer said. “I always try to get in that lineup as much as I can. Tonight was a good night and hopefully I can carry it into (Sunday).”
Gardenhire had plenty to smile about one night after the Twins were defeated 7-1 in the series opener Friday.
“It was a nice win,” he said. “The bullpen was super. They all did their job. Duensing was fantastic. The guys put some good swings on the ball in the first inning. It was a good hanger on-er.”
Minnesota sent nine men to the plate in the first off Tomlin, who needed 32 pitches to get through the inning. Mauer and Justin Morneau had RBI singles and Plouffe added a two-run single with the bases loaded.
“Two runs is great, but to get four runs, I don’t want to say it’s a dagger, but it’s a big inning,” Plouffe said.
Twins starter P.J. Walters couldn’t hold the lead and didn’t get through the fifth inning. The right-hander allowed four runs in 4 1-3 innings.
The Indians scored in the first on Michael Brantley’s fielder’s choice with the bases loaded and again in the third on Asdrubal Cabrera’s RBI single. Lou Marson’s RBI groundout cut the lead to 4-3 in the fourth. Brantley tied the game with an RBI single in the fifth that extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
Walters tweaked his ankle earlier in the inning when he attempted a pickoff throw to first base after Jason Kipnis singled. Walters stepped behind the mound and was visited by Gardenhire and a trainer. He remained in the game without throwing a warmup pitch. Walters retired Cabrera, but gave up singles to Jose Lopez and Brantley before being replaced by Duensing.
Jared Burton and Glen Perkins also pitched scoreless ball out of Minnesota’s bullpen.
Tomlin made his second start since being on the DL last month with right wrist soreness. He allowed five runs and 10 hits in six innings.
“Everything I threw up there in the first inning, they were either taking it or putting a good swing on it,” Tomlin said. “But it was even more frustrating to give up the homer to Plouffe because our guys had fought back to tie it up. In that situation, it’s my job to put up a zero and keep our momentum going, and I didn’t do that.”
The Twins announced before the game pitcher Carl Pavano will return to Minneapolis on Sunday to have an MRI on his sore right shoulder. Pavano is 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA in 11 starts. He’s scheduled to start Wednesday against Kansas City.
NOTES: Gardenhire praised the no-hitter thrown by former Minnesota LHP Johan Santana against Friday. “I tried to text him to say congratulations, but the son of a gun changed his number,” Gardenhire said. “That was a big moment in New York. I was nervous for Johan.” … Minnesota has lost 11 of its last 13 meetings against Cleveland. … The teams wrap up their three-game series Sunday at 3:05 p.m. Cleveland RHP Justin Masterson (2-4, 5.14 ERA) faces Minnesota LHP Scott Diamond (3-1, 2.27). … Indians C Carlos Santana, who has been out for a week with a concussion, took batting practice, threw to the bases and ran the bases before Saturday’s game. He might return Tuesday, but must pass major league baseball’s standard test for players with concussions before returning. … Former Indians INF Carlos Baerga threw out the ceremonial first pitch.