CLEVELAND (AP) — Faced with a rugged road trip against streaking teams, the Minnesota Twins needed something positive to happen.
A strong outing by Mike Pelfrey and just enough clutch hitting did the trick in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Cleveland that stopped the Indians’ six-game winning string.
Minnesota, which is on a 10-game swing, lost two of three in Detroit and dropped the first two games against the Indians. With a four-game series starting Monday in Boston, which has the best record in baseball, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn’t want the losses to pile up.
“It was a good win for us,” he said. “No one wants to get swept. We’d like to start winning series. That’s our goal. Now we’re going to Boston, another team that’s playing really, really well and we’ll see what happens there.”
The loss dropped the Indians back to .500, but manager Terry Francona likes the way his team has been playing.
“When you’re going through good periods, you don’t necessarily even have to reel off a bunch of wins to feel good about your team,” he said. “When your starting pitching is good, you’ve got a chance to win every night. Guys continue to pick each other up at the plate.”
Pelfrey, coming off reconstructive surgery on his right elbow that limited him to three games last season, allowed one run in six innings in his longest outing of the season.
Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run homer in the second. Justin Morneau drove in a run with a bases-loaded single in the sixth while Joe Mauer, who was in a 5-for-43 slump, added an RBI double in the seventh.
Pelfrey (3-3), who allowed nine earned runs in losing his two previous starts, slowed down an Indians lineup that produced 53 runs during the winning streak. The right-hander gave up one run and four hits while striking out seven.
“It definitely feels better than the last one,” Pelfrey said. “At the end of the day, if we win I’m happy. If I had given up four or five runs and we would have won, I would have been OK with it. Winning is the thing I care about the most.”
Plouffe homered off Corey Kluber (2-1) with one out in the second, his fourth of the season and second in the series. Chris Parmelee was aboard with a walk.
Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his seventh save in seven chances. Carlos Santana hit a solo homer with two outs before Ryan Raburn blooped a single. Perkins struck out pinch-hitter Mike Aviles on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
Pelfrey began last season in the New York Mets’ rotation, but appeared in only three games before having surgery on May 1. He signed with Minnesota in December. Pelfrey, who matched his season strikeout total, came into the game having allowed 19 earned runs in 22 1-3 innings — and opponents were batting .356 against him.
“He threw the ball great,” Gardenhire said. “This has been a heck of a comeback. We’re still just a year out of the surgery. We’re taking small steps. Hopefully we’ll keeping progressing.”
Said Pelfrey: “Things are starting to come together. It was a good day.”
The Indians’ winning streak began last Sunday when Kluber held Kansas City to two runs in seven innings. The right-hander gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings against Minnesota.
Jamey Carroll started the sixth with a single before Mauer and Josh Willingham walked. Morneau sent a sharp grounder through the right side that scored Carroll. Although Mauer was held at third, Willingham rounded second too far and was tagged out in a rundown. The mistake proved costly because Minnesota loaded the bases again with two outs before Cody Allen struck out Oswaldo Arcia.
Carroll, who reached base three times, drew a two-out walk in the seventh and scored when Mauer’s double got past left fielder Michael Brantley, who came up short on a diving attempt.
Morneau was in the original lineup at first base, but was moved to designated hitter after telling Gardenhire he “felt a little stiff.” Parmelee moved from right field to first and Arcia played right.
Josh Roenicke and Jared Burton each pitched a scoreless inning for the Twins, who have the lowest bullpen ERA in the American League.
Mark Reynolds’ sacrifice fly in the fourth scored Cleveland’s first run.
NOTES: Indians CF Michael Bourn (lacerated right index finger) will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Columbus on Monday. He’s been out since April 14. Francona said Bourn will play three games on the stint … Cleveland RHP Vinnie Pestano was unavailable because of a sore right elbow, but Francona expects him to be ready to pitch Monday … LHP Scott Barnes was recalled from Columbus to give the Indians an extra reliever. OF Ezequiel Carrera was designated for assignment. … Carroll was atop the batting order for the second time this season as 2B Brian Dozier was given the afternoon off. … RHP Vance Worley (0-4) faces Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz (6-0) on Monday. … Cleveland continues its homestand Monday with the start of a four-game set against Oakland. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2) pitches against A’s RHP Jarrod Parker (1-4).
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