Hunter’s homer in 9th gives Twins 10-9 victory over Indians
CLEVELAND (AP) — Torii Hunter knows a thing or two about coming through in clutch situations.
Hunter proved it again Friday night with a ninth-inning home run that gave Minnesota a 10-9 victory over the Cleveland Indians, ending the Twins’ five-game losing streak.
“This is not my first rodeo,” he said. “I know how to bear down and get it done. That’s what I did. I really wanted to help this ballclub out. Everybody pitched in. It was a lot of fun today, but it was a battle.”
Hunter, who drove in three runs and stole a base, had a few comments for his teammates after an early 6-0 lead turned into a 9-7 deficit in the fifth inning.
“We had some tension in that dugout,” he said. “In a good way, not towards anybody. We tried to pump each other up.”
Hunter connected against Bryan Shaw (1-2) to complete a comeback for the Twins, who were coming off a four-game sweep in Toronto that dropped them three games behind in the AL wild card race.
Indians manager Terry Francona wasn’t surprised Hunter delivered with the game on the line.
“Boy, he’s really beat us up,” Francona said. “Man, I think he’s followed me because I’ve seen that for a lot of years.”
Trevor May (8-7) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Glen Perkins worked out of trouble in the ninth for his 30th save. Carlos Santana drew a one-out walk and pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn singled with two outs, but Jerry Sands struck out on three pitches to end the game.
Cleveland, which traded outfielders Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to Atlanta for third baseman Chris Johnson before the game, fell to a season-worst 10 games under .500.
Twins manager Paul Molitor knew the victory was more difficult than it should have been, but he wasn’t about to give it back.
“No matter how you get it, it’s a good thing,” he said. “We know they’ve been tough to come by. It’s unfortunate that you can get out to a good start like that and have to battle the way we did to relinquish the lead after being up by six.”
The Indians scored four runs in the third and five runs in the fourth. Yan Gomes had four RBIs, including a three-run homer in the fourth that gave Cleveland a 9-7 lead. Minnesota scored a run in the fifth, and Brian Dozier’s leadoff homer in the sixth tied it 9-all.
Shaw retired Trevor Plouffe to start the ninth, but Hunter hit the first pitch into the right-field seats for his 18th homer.
Twins starter Mike Pelfrey couldn’t hold the big lead and remained winless since June 7, a stretch of 10 starts. The right-hander allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings.
Michael Brantley had three RBIs for the Indians, including a two-run double in the fourth.
Cleveland starter Cody Anderson retired the first six hitters but didn’t get through the third, allowing six runs in 2 2-3 innings.
NINE IS ENOUGH
The Twins are carrying nine relievers after recalling RHP A.J. Achter from Triple-A Rochester. They won’t need a fifth starter until Aug. 15, allowing them to add another bullpen arm.
Achter allowed Gomes’ home run, but struck out the side in the fifth.
Twins: OF Byron Buxton (sprained left thumb) has reported to Triple-A Rochester to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment. He’s been on the 15-day disabled list since June 26.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana, who is 3-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 18 career starts against the Indians, threw the only no-hitter in Progressive Field history on July 27, 2011 while with the Angels.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer pitched his first career complete game in his last home start, but lost 2-1 to Kansas City on July 28. His last victory was July 8 against Houston.