MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Derek Lowe pitched his first shutout in nearly seven years, throwing a six-hitter Tuesday and leading the Cleveland Indians over the Minnesota Twins 5-0.
Shin-Soo Choo, the Indians’ new leadoff man, scored after a leadoff double in the third inning and then hit the first of three Cleveland home runs in the fifth against Jason Marquis (2-3). Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana also homered to break the game open.
The 38-year-old Lowe (6-1) was at his sinker-balling best, walking four without a strikeout. He induced four double-play grounders in winning his fourth straight decision.
This was Lowe’s longest outing in eight starts this season. He’s allowed three runs or less with six innings or more in seven of them.
Acquiring Lowe from Atlanta for a minor leaguer has turned out to be arguably the best move the Indians made for 2012. The Fausto Carmona false-identity fallout and inconsistency by Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson have hurt the rotation, but Lowe has been a welcome stabilizer.
Lowe threw a season-high 127 pitches for his 10th career complete game, and first since Aug. 26, 2008, for the Los Angeles Dodgers. This was his fourth big league shutout, the previous one coming on Aug. 31, 2005, for the Dodgers at San Diego.
The only time the Twins truly came close to scoring was in the seventh when they loaded the bases with two outs on two singles and a walk. But Alexi Casilla swung at the first pitch for a lazy fly to right field.
The first-place Indians rebounded from five losses in their previous six games with a two-game sweep at Target Field of the majors-worst Twins, who entered the game with the most groundballs hit in the league, an average of more than 14 per game.
Starting pitching has been just as much of a problem, and Marquis was the latest to falter. Manager Ron Gardenhire spoke before the game of the importance of a quality performance from Marquis, but he gave up nine hits, five runs and two walks in five innings while striking out only two.
The last time the Twins surrendered three homers in one inning was in 2010 when Carl Pavano did it at Detroit.
Casey Kotchman punched an RBI single down the lane past a shifted-over third baseman Jamey Carroll to drive in Santana after a double to start the second. Marquis escaped a leadoff triple by Michael Brantley in the fourth, but the ball was flying all over the place in the fifth.
Choo’s drive reached the left-field seats. Two batters later, Cabrera hit an 0-1 sinker to the upper deck in right-center. Then Santana turned on a changeup that sailed just inside the pole down the right-field line.
NOTES: Cleveland manager Manny Acta said before the game that Choo will be the leadoff hitter until further notice. … The Indians improved to 12-6 on the road, the third-best mark in the majors. … Indians 3B Jack Hannahan was held out for a second straight game because of a sore back. … Pavano will stay in Minnesota for a few days to work with a soft-tissue specialist on his bothersome right shoulder when the team leaves for the road, but he’s expected to make his next start on Saturday. … Twins C Joe Mauer, who went 0 for 3 with a walk and three groundouts, batted second for the first time this season.
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