CLEVELAND (AP) — Drew Stubbs hit a tiebreaking, two-out homer in the eighth inning and the Cleveland Indians overcame four errors to beat the Minnesota Twins 3-1 Sunday.
Stubbs homered to dead center on a 0-1 pitch from Jared Burton (2-7) to snap a 1-all tie and lift the Indians to a crucial win in their quest a spot in the American League playoffs. Joe Smith (5-1) pitched a scoreless eighth and Chris Perez worked the ninth for his 21st save.
The Indians entered the day trailing Oakland by 2 games for the AL’s second wild-card spot, but didn’t look like a playoff contender for much of the day. In addition to the four errors, the Indians made several other mistakes, both in the field and on the bases but managed to survive before starting a crucial road trip to Atlanta and Detroit that begins Tuesday.
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Nick Swisher added an RBI single in the eighth.
Pitchers Scott Kazmir and Cody Allen and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera had throwing errors while second baseman Jason Kipnis dropped a soft line drive. The Twins failed to take advantage of the Indians’ generosity. Minnesota stranded 13 runners and was 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position.
Stubbs is making a habit of late-game heroics. His two-run homer in the 14th inning on Wednesday was the key blow in a 4-1 win.
Burton retired the first two hitters in the eighth before before Stubbs hit his ninth home run of the season to the deepest part of the ballpark. Michael Bourn turned his routine hit to center by hustling into second for a double and scored on Swisher’s single.
Neither starter was involved in the decision. Kazmir allowed one run and struck out eight in six innings while Mike Pelfrey walked six in five innnigs, but held Cleveland to one run and two hits.
The Indians, who stranded 12 baserunners, took a 1-0 lead in the third on Kipnis’ RBI single.
Cleveland’s shoddy defense helped Minnesota tie the game in the fifth. Clete Thomas led off with a single, took second on a sacrifice and moved to third on Brian Dozier’s single. Thomas scored when Doug Bernier pushed a bunt to the right side of the mound. Swisher fielded the ball, but no one covered first and Bernier reached with a single.
Josh Willingham struck out, but Ryan Doumit walked to load the bases. The inning finally ended when Trevor Plouffe lined out to third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall.
A double and Cabrera’s throwing error put runnners at second and third with one out in the Twins’ fourth, but Kazmir worked out of the jam. Wilkin Ramirez flied out to shallow right field and Chris Colabello struck out.
The Twins played the final game of a stretch that saw them play 27 games in 27 days.
Notes: Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said that All-Star C Joe Mauer (concussion) is resting at home and is expected to return to Target Field on Tuesday when the team begins a brief three-game homestand against Kansas City. Mauer is on the seven-day concussion list, but it’s likely he won’t be activated until the end of the week at the earliest. . . . Morneau wasn’t in the lineup against Kazmir. He pinch-hit in the eighth and reached on an error. . . . RHP Josh Tomlin, who is attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery, was activated from the 60-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Columbus. He is expected to rejoin the Indians when rosters are expanded in September.