CLEVELAND (AP) — Pedro Hernandez will have been with the Minnesota Twins just long enough to earn a victory. Making an emergency start after scheduled starter Mike Pelfrey was scratched because of a strained back, Hernandez allowed two runs in five innings, and the Twins avoided a three-game sweep with a 5-3 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
“This is crazy for me,” he said. “I slept three hours. But, you know, that’s part of my job. I love my job.”
Hernandez learned he was needed to make a spot start after Triple-A Rochester’s game at Louisville, Ky., Saturday night after Pelfrey hurt his back while running in the outfield during batting practice.
With his wife, Jackie, behind the wheel and their infant daughter in the car, Hernandez headed north, arriving at the Twins’ hotel at 4 a.m.
Hernandez (3-1) then pitched around six walks and got the win despite throwing 45 of his 85 pitches for balls. The left-hander walked the first three hitters in the second but allowed only one run before giving up another in the third. Hernandez retired eight of the last nine hitters he faced.
“The first three innings he was dodging bullets all day long,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He wasn’t attacking the strike zone. The last two innings were pretty decent. The fifth was his best inning.”
And his last.
After the game he learned he was being sent back to the minors. Thant meant he and his family would have to drive to Indianapolis, where the Red Wings play next.
Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham each drove in a pair of runs while Trevor Plouffe’s RBI single in the fifth put Minnesota ahead for good.
Three Minnesota relievers allowed one run over the final four innings. Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his 19th save.
The Twins’ situation was even more dire since P.J. Walters lasted only two-thirds of an inning and walked five in Saturday’s loss.
“It was a good win for us,” Gardenhire said. “We knew after all the things that had taken place we were going to have to have somebody. That’s what we were hoping for. We were hoping we could get through five innings. He gave us the lead, held the lead and we went from there.”
Hernandez, who appeared in eight games with the Twins earlier this season, was also pitching on short rest after throwing five relief innings for Rochester on Wednesday.
“The first and second innings, I (felt) a little tired,” he said. “After the third inning, I said, ‘Come on. Let’s go. This is my opportunity. I want to do my best right now.'”
Indians manager Terry Francona knew his team missed too many chances.
“We gave ourselves plenty of opportunities,” he said. “We just never really cashed in. We kept getting runners on base, we just didn’t do anything with it.”
Carlos Carrasco (0-3) allowed three runs in 4 2-3 innings. The right-hander, who missed all of last season because of elbow surgery, hasn’t won since June 29, 2011, when he defeated Arizona.
Cleveland scored in the second on Yan Gomes’ sacrifice fly. Jason Kipnis added an RBI double in the third while Drew Stubbs hit a solo homer in the seventh.
Michael Bourn opened the ninth with an infield hit but Mike Aviles bounced into a double play. Kipnis doubled for his third hit of the game before Nick Swisher grounded out.
Minnesota scored in the first on Willingham’s RBI single. Trailing 2-1, the Twins took the lead in the fifth thanks to their clutch hitting.
Clete Thomas’ single and a walk to Joe Mauer started the inning. Carrasco retired the next two hitters but Arcia singled up the middle on a 3-2 pitch to tie the game. Plouffe bounced a single through the left side that put the Twins ahead and ended Carrasco’s day.
Willingham, who has been playing through a sore left knee, added an RBI single in the seventh. Arcia doubled in a run in the ninth.
Swisher returned to the lineup after missing six games with a sore left shoulder. He was hitless in five at-bats and is in a 6-for-60 slump.
Doumit left the game in the ninth inning after tweaking his ankle scoring in the ninth.
NOTES: Twins 1B Justin Morneau was given the day off. … OF Wilkin Ramirez (concussion) experienced dizziness while diving for a fly ball Saturday while on a rehab assignment at Class A Fort Myers. The team said he will be reevaluated. … Kipnis has reached base safely in 25 straight games. … The Twins are off Monday and open a two-game series Tuesday in Miami. … RHPs Brett Myers (shoulder) and Blake Wood (elbow) will each pitch an inning on a rehab assignment for Class A Mahoning Valley on Monday. Myers, who is on the 60-day DL, was signed in the offseason to be in the rotation but Francona said he’ll pitch in the bullpen when he returns. … The Indians, who are 14-21 away from home, open a 10-game road trip Monday in Baltimore. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (5-4) faces RHP Zach Britton (1-1).
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