Red-hot Twins ride Hunter, Dozier to win
CLEVELAND -- A blowout turned into a close game late, but that doesn't seem to matter to the streaking Minnesota Twins who always seem to find a way to win.
Right fielder Torii Hunter had three more hits, including his second home run in as many days, and second baseman Brian Dozier doubled and homered as the red-hot Twins beat the Cleveland Indians 7-4 on Saturday at Progressive Field.
Hunter, who was 4-for-4 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs in the Twins' 9-3 win on Friday, was 3-for-5 with another homer, a double and an RBI on Saturday.
The Twins have won four games in a row and 12 of their last 16 games. They are 8-1 in May.
"We're playing good baseball and we're getting rewarded in the win column," said Minnesota manager Paul Molitor.
Right-hander Phil Hughes (2-4) pitched into the seventh inning to get the win. Left-hander Glen Perkins worked the ninth to pick up his 11th save.
"It's fun being a part of a team that is doing what we're doing," Hughes said. "As a starting pitcher it seems like if we just give our guys a chance good things happen. We're scoring runs in bunches."
Cleveland left-hander Bruce Chen found that out. Chen (0-1) was making his first start after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Columbus, replacing injured left-hander T.J. House in the rotation. The 37-year-old Chen, pitching for his 11th major league team, lasted four innings, giving up six runs and 10 hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
"A lot of hits. He needs to be pretty accurate with his command," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona.
"I feel like I let the team down. They were counting on me to have a good outing and I didn't pitch well," Chen said.
The Twins wasted little time going to work against Chen. Hunter, the second batter of the game, belted a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall for his fifth home run, givingMinnesota a 1-0 lead.
Chen threw 29 pitches in the first inning, but only six as he set down the side in order in the second. However, the Twins erupted for three more runs and five hits in the third.
Dozier led off the top of the third with a double and went to third on a single by Hunter. Chen struck out the next two batters before designated hitter Kennys Vargassingled to left, scoring Dozier to make it 2-0.
Third baseman Eduardo Escobar followed with a single that scored Hunter as the Minnesota lead grew to 3-0. Vargas then scored on a single by left fielder Eddie Rosario to make it 4-0.
The Twins extended their lead to 6-0 in the fifth on RBI singles by Vargas and Escobar. A home run by Dozier off right-hander Ryan Webb stretched the Twins' lead to 7-0.
"We had a lot of clutch hitting today. A lot of good at bats," Molitor said.
Cleveland reached Hughes for a run in the sixth on an RBI single by left fielder Michael Brantley. Cleveland then mounted a three-run rally in the seventh to cut its deficit to 7-4.
Designated hitter Nick Swisher doubled to start the inning, the third of his four hits. He scored on a double by center fielder Michael Bourn. Pinch-hitter David Murphythen belted a two-run homer over the center field fence off Hughes.
Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs, but left-hander Aaron Thompson retired third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall on a flyout to end the seventh and keep theTwins ahead 7-4.
"The first five flowed pretty smooth, but give them credit they had some good at bats against me in the sixth and seventh," Hughes said.
The Indians have lost three games in a row and they remain mired in last place in the AL Central with a record of 10-19.
"What's happening is not a lot of fun, but we can't feel sorry for ourselves," Francona said.