MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Lou Marson hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning and the Cleveland Indians completed a doubleheader sweep with a 6-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night, kicking off the important four-game series with a pair of victories at sweltering Target Field.
Marson also doubled and scored in the fifth against Scott Diamond, who turned in a decent major league debut for the Twins but took the defeat. Fausto Carmona (5-10) came off the disabled list and won for only the second time in his last 12 starts, beating the heat to finish six innings with two runs allowed.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit a three-run homer to lift the Indians to a 5-2 win in the matinee and added an RBI single in the nightcap.
After climbing Sunday as close to the AL Central lead as they’d been since April 26, five games back, the Twins took a tumble on one tough day — falling to seven games behind the Indians. Travis Hafner had two hits and two RBIs in the second game, and Michael Brantley finished with five hits on one of those days when scorecards worked better as personal fans and faces glistened in sweat.
Minnesota star Joe Mauer had three hits in each game, but Carmona picked up where David Huff (1-0) left off. Returning from a strained right quadriceps muscle, Carmona allowed seven hits, struck out one and walked none, helping the Indians reassert themselves atop the division and cool off the surging Twins, who were 20 games under .500 at the beginning of June.
After Marson’s first homer of the season made it 3-2, third baseman Danny Valencia overran a dribbler hit by Ezequiel Carrera for an error. Carrera later scored on a single by Hafner, the first and only batter faced by Phil Dumatrait. Diamond left the mound to a standing ovation, tipping his cap in appreciation after smiling upon being congratulated by manager Ron Gardenhire.
Diamond was acquired by the Twins last December through the major league draft at the winter meetings — Rule 5, as it’s referred to — and kept in the organization at the end of spring training when they traded minor league pitcher Billy Bullock to the Atlanta Braves. With Triple-A Rochester, Diamond is 4-8 with one complete game and a 4.70 ERA in 17 starts. He was summoned to make this start when right-hander Scott Baker, arguably Minnesota’s best starting pitcher before the All-Star break, landed on the disabled list due to a strained right elbow.
The Twins couldn’t have expected too much more from their fill-in starters. Anthony Swarzak, summoned from the bullpen for the opener, pitched six innings, giving up four runs, three earned. An error by second baseman Alexi Casilla led to one score in Cleveland’s four-run fourth and Cabrera’s three-run shot capped the big inning.
Similar to the matinee, the Twins were not sharp enough in the field or clutch enough at the plate in the nightcap to get Diamond a win in his first game. The left-hander lasted 6 1-3 innings and was charged with four runs, three earned, and seven hits.
Diamond had two outs in the fifth when Marson doubled and scored on a first-pitch single by Michael Brantley, right after a visit to the mound by Mauer and pitching coach Rick Anderson. Cabrera’s RBI single drove in the No. 9 hitter Carrera, who walked after Marson, to give the Indians a 2-1 edge.
Valencia’s homer tied it up again in the sixth and Trevor Plouffe also went deep in the ninth, but the damage was done in between.
Huff fared better as a stopgap starter for the Indians, pitching seven shutout innings in his first major league appearance this season after coming up from Triple-A Columbus. While many of the 39,000 fans sought shelter in the concourses – the temperature at first pitch for the second game was still 93 degrees in stifling humidity – Huff kept the Twins quiet.
How hot was it?
Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta’s sweaty hands lost the grip on his bat twice in one at-bat in the first game, sending it flying down the third base line on the first swing. Even after putting some rosin on his hands, LaPorta swung and missed on strike three and the bat flew into the stands again, where a fan held it up as LaPorta was booed back to the dugout. Austin Kearns let a bat fly out of his grip and into the seats during the second game.
NOTES: Diamond, who’s from Ontario, became the eighth Canadian-born player to appear in a game for the Twins. … Mauer played first base in the opener and was at catcher for the night game. He moved into 11th place on the team’s career lists for hits (1,049) and RBIs (486), passing Roy Smalley in both categories. He’s batting .393 (22 for 56) in July. … Cabrera leads the Indians with 17 homers and 59 RBIs. … Twins 1B Justin Morneau, recovering from neck surgery, has started playing catch and will resume baseball activities this week.
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