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Indians end Twins' power surge with four home runs in victory

CLEVELAND--In the first inning Thursday the Cleveland Indians had something they had only once in the previous three games and 27 innings: the lead. After three innings they had an ever bigger lead: 4-0. "That helps, because we got beat around th...

Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor hits a two-run home run during the seventh inning Thursday against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor hits a two-run home run during the seventh inning Thursday against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND-In the first inning Thursday the Cleveland Indians had something they had only once in the previous three games and 27 innings: the lead.

After three innings they had an ever bigger lead: 4-0.

"That helps, because we got beat around the ballpark for the last three days," said Indians manager Terry Francona.

On Thursday the Indians got the lead and kept it, as four home runs helped power Cleveland to a needed 9-2 win over the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field.

The win halts Cleveland's three-game losing streak-all to the Twins, who erupted for 35 runs in the first three contests.

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On Thursday, it was the Indians who were doing the mashing as Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez all homered.

Cleveland reliever Dan Otero (3-1) picked up the win while Minnesota starter Hector Santiago (10-5) took the loss. The setback also snapped the Twins' four-game winning streak.

Otero relieved starter Mike Clevinger in the fifth inning and got two key outs to end a Minnesota rally, after the Twins had cut Cleveland's lead to 4-2. Otero, pitching for the third consecutive day, pitched 1 1/3 hitless and scoreless innings.

"He was pitching on fumes but he got some huge outs, and allowed us to get our bullpen in some semblance of order," Francona said.

The Indians only had the lead in one of the first 27 innings played in the series, but they grabbed the early advantage off Santiago. The hurler was making his Twins debut after being acquired in a trade with the Angels on Monday.

"He was OK. As advertised," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "He got his velocity up when he needed it. He was a little erratic with some pitches, but he hung in there."

With one out in the first inning, Kipnis hit a 1-0 pitch over the wall in center field to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead. It was Kipnis' career-high 18th home run, eclipsing his previous best total in 2013.

Santiago came into the game on a roll. He was 6-0 with a 1.78 ERA in his previous six starts, but after pitching a scoreless second inning, he gave up three more runs in the third.

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With two outs and nobody on base, Lindor singled to center. Mike Napoli, who had homered in his previous five consecutive games, drew a walk before Santana blasted an 0-1 pitch over the left-field wall for a three-run home run. His 24th blast gave the Indians a 4-0 lead.

Santiago pitched five innings, allowing four runs and five hits.

Clevinger was trying to halt a streak of three consecutive disastrous outings by Indians starting pitchers. Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer, the starters in the first three games of the series, combined for a 22.68 ERA in those three outings, allowing 21 earned runs and 23 hits in 8 1/3 innings.

Clevinger held Minnesota scoreless on two hits through the first three innings, but the Twins scored a run in the fourth on an RBI single by Kurt Suzuki, cutting the Cleveland lead to 4-1.

Minnesota chopped another run off the lead in the fifth. Brian Dozier led off the inning with a home run into the left-field bleachers. It was the 22nd home run for Dozier, who has hit five homers in his last five games and went deep in each of the last three games of the series.

"He's really on a nice run. Good pitch recognition, and trusting his hands," said Molitor.

Cleveland blew it open with a three-run seventh inning off reliever Michael Tonkin. With two outs and nobody on base, Rajai Davis singled and stole second and third. Kipnis walked and Lindor belted his 13th home run over the wall in center field, extending the Indians' lead to 7-2.

A home run by Ramirez and an RBI single by Davis in the ninth made the final 9-2.

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Davis triggered a rally-killing double play in the fifth, when, with the bases loaded and one out, he caught a fly ball, and instead of throwing home, he threw to first to double off Mauer, ending the inning.

"I went by what I saw and what I saw was an easy out. Mauer was halfway to second," Davis said.

NOTES: The Indians recalled RHP Mike Clevinger and LHP Ryan Merritt from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game. They will take the roster spots of RHPs Shawn Armstrong and Cody Anderson, who were optioned to Columbus following Wednesday's game. ... Indians 1B Mike Napoli, who had hit home runs in five consecutive contests entering Thursday's game, has gone deep nine times since the All-Star break, the most in the majors. ... Since July 1, the Twins lead the majors in runs scored, hits, doubles and triples. ... Twins INF Trevor Plouffe, who is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester, is expected to be activated off the disabled list on Monday. He has been on the disabled list since July 4 with a cracked rib.

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