CLEVELAND (AP) — Shelley Duncan is giving the Cleveland Indians a late-season boost.
Duncan drove in three runs to lead Cleveland over Minnesota 8-2 Saturday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader and send the Twins to their 17th loss in 19 games. At 60-97, the Twins matched their 1999 mark for the second-most losses since the team moved to Minnesota, ahead of only a 60-102 record in 1982.
Duncan leads the Indians this month with 17 RBIs and six homers. He has been particularly effective in the clutch all season, getting 20 of 41 RBIs with two outs.
“Getting more playing time has helped,” Duncan said. “Now, if I don’t get a hit I can say, ‘Well, there’s always tomorrow.’ Before, it was there’s always maybe next week. I’ve always believed I can play well up here. I’m 31 going on 32, but I want to play as long as I can.”
Duncan had a two-out, two-run single in the first inning and a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in Cleveland’s six-run sixth.
“With so many guys out, Shelley has picked us up,” manager Manny Acta said.
The Indians lost another player when center fielder Trevor Crowe strained his left shoulder trying to make a diving catch in the first inning on a double by Ben Revere. Acta said Crowe, who missed t five months recovering from right shoulder surgery in March, was taken for tests and will not play in Cleveland’s final five games.
Cleveland scored five runs off reliever Francisco Liriano (9-10) in a six-run sixth and won for the seventh time in 10 games. The Indians have won seven straight from the Twins.
“One minute everything was fine,” Liriano said. “I think I was rushing and trying to overthrow. The ball was moving everywhere. It was one of those days.”
Zach Putnam (1-1) struck out three in 1 1-3 innings for his first major league win. Three Cleveland pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts and no walks.
“I’m glad I could contribute and getting a win is exciting,” said Putnam, whose father and mother were among several family members watching.
Minnesota’s Danny Valencia and Denard Span were back in the lineup after missing one game. They were involved in a minor car accident on the way to the airport on Thursday, when Span drove into the back of Valencia’s car.
Trevor Plouffe’s RBI double tied the score 2-all in the sixth before the Indians broke away in the bottom half.
Liriano loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter, and Duncan’s sacrifice fly regained the lead. Matt LaPorta’s RBI double and Jack Hannahan’s run-scoring bloop single made it 5-2, and Jim Hoey was greeted by Kosuke Fukudome’s RBI single and Kipnis’ two-run single.
Cleveland’s David Huff struck out a career-high seven in 5 2-3 innings. He gave up two runs and eight hits. He wild-pitched home a run in the fourth and yielded an RBI double to Trevor Plouffe in the sixth to tie it at 2.
“David did a good job,” Acta said. “He was more aggressive with his fastball, had good life on it and that made him able to use his changeup and curve.”
Twins starter Brian Duensing allowed two runs and three hits in five innings, his first start since leaving a game Sept. 3 with a strained right oblique. He had worked three times in relief since.
NOTES: Huff is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in two starts against the Twins this year. … Twins rookie 1B Chris Parmelee was 0 for 4 with four strikeouts. … Minnesota placed C Joe Mauer (pneumonia), 1B Justin Morneau (concussion symptoms) and IN Tsuyowshi Nishioka (strained oblique) on the disabled list. All the moves were retroactive to mid-September. … The Twins were set to send LHP Scott Diamond (1-5) to the mound in the second game against Cleveland RHP Mitch Talbot (2-6). … Cleveland closes its home season Sunday with RHP Fausto Carmona (7-15) opposing Twins RHP Liam Hendricks (0-2).
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