CLEVELAND (AP) — The Minnesota Twins are losing valuable ground in the standings.

Phil Hughes lasted just three innings and Minnesota managed just three hits in an 8-1 loss to Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.

The Twins closed out a 1-6 road trip to Toronto and Cleveland. After having the American League's second-best record on July 13, the Twins are 55-56 and falling off the pace in the race for the second AL wild card.

"The day off is probably coming at a good time," designated hitter Joe Mauer said. "We go through stretches like this in baseball. We started off 1-8. It's bad timing right now and hopefully we can get back."

One reason for the Twins' slump is the rotation. The starters posted a 13.83 ERA on the road trip, allowing 42 earned runs in 27 1-3 innings. Hughes (10-8), who pitched at least six innings in 17 of his first 20 starts, allowed a season-high seven runs.

"The way the first couple games of the series went I felt if nothing else I needed to at least get some innings and I couldn't do that," Hughes said.

Hughes said one reason why the starters have struggled is they haven't done a good job of pitching inside, which has allowed hitters to get comfortable and make contact early in the count.

"We have to find a way to combat that and it was exploited this series," he said. "Everyone knows we have a group that are strike throwers and for us to be successful we need to make adjustments and this series we didn't do that."

Kluber (7-12) didn't allow a hit until Mauer's two-out single in the seventh. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struck out 10 and walked one in his sixth career complete game — all coming in the last two years.

"The one I hit was probably the best pitch I saw all day," Mauer said. "You can't miss a pitch like that with a guy like that."

Aaron Hicks hit an RBI double for Minnesota with two out in the ninth, but Mauer bounced to first on Kluber's 100th pitch for the final out.

Chris Johnson went 4 for 4 with two doubles for Cleveland, and Abraham Almonte homered for the second straight day.


Despite the slump, Minnesota manager Paul Molitor vowed to remain even keel and not change his approach in his first season as manager. Minnesota's 6-16 mark since the All-Star break is the worst in the AL and second-worst in the majors.

"I'm not going down that route," Molitor said about showing emotion. "It's a team that's still throughout the year developing young players. We're trying to get better, to find a way to sustain over 162 games, not 100 games."


Twins: LHP Tommy Milone (strained elbow) had a day off in his throwing program. Molitor said Milone should start an extended throwing program this week with a bullpen session possibly Thursday.

Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis (sore right shoulder) will begin playing catch this week. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 3.


Twins: Minnesota begins a six-game homestand on Tuesday against Texas. RHP Kyle Gibson (8-9, 3.78 ERA) gets the ball for the Twins after he was tagged for eight runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings in his previous start Thursday at Toronto.

Indians: Cleveland opens a three-game home series against the Yankees on Tuesday. Carlos Carrasco (11-8, 3.76 ERA), who pitched nine scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Angels in his last outing, starts the opener.