MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Francisco Liriano worked out of trouble while throwing seven effective innings and the Minnesota Twins salvaged the final game of a frustrating series against Cleveland, winning 6-0 on Wednesday to end the Indians' six-game winning streak.
Liriano (8-7) allowed 10 baserunners but stayed poised and benefited from three double plays. He struck out eight, including rookie Carlos Santana with runners at the corners to finish the third inning.
Delmon Young had three hits and three RBIs for the Twins. But he also was thrown out at the plate by a few yards on a questionable decision to try to score from second on Michael Cuddyer's RBI single during a four-run rally in the third.
J.J. Hardy picked him up with a two-run double later in the inning against Jake Westbrook (6-6), who struggled with his control in what could be one of his final starts with Cleveland.
Westbrook is one of several starting pitchers around the majors who could be available in a trade with the non-waiver deadline just 10 days away, a market the Twins might need to tap into to defend their division title. But the right-hander allowed four runs and six hits with five walks in six innings in this one, not exactly enhancing his value.
Liriano's worst start of the season came just before the All-Star break — seven runs and he didn't finish the second inning — and created further concern about an unstable staff. The Twins still have plenty of pitching problems to solve, but Liriano's first two turns of the second half have at least served to solidify the front of the rotation.
Perhaps most importantly, both performances followed Twins losses.
This series against the Indians started a stretch of 13 straight games against losing teams, but that doesn't matter as much as the Twins rediscovering their swagger and refocusing on fundamentals — like baserunning — that have previously made them so successful.
Starting Thursday, they'll play 17 of their next 20 games on the road, where they're 20-25.
Young's attempt to score in the fourth, with one out, the bases loaded and Jim Thome due up next, was one example of the kind of un-Twins-like plays that have unfolded on the field for them this year. Another was Cuddyer getting caught stealing third for the second out of the fifth with Thome up.
They made up for it in the eighth, when Nick Punto and Denard Span pulled off a double steal to get in position to score on Young's blistering single that bounced right at and knocked over shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
With three switch-hitters and six righties in the lineup, the young Indians were ready for Liriano, who has not allowed a home run to a left-handed hitter since April 6, 2009. He also has walked only one lefty all season.
After a couple of long high foul balls to left that hooked away from the pole, Cleveland's Matt LaPorta whiffed at a high fastball to strike out in the fourth.
NOTES: Indians OF Austin Kearns sat out for the second straight game after being pulled Monday because of right knee soreness. Cleveland is off Thursday. ... Minnesota's Joe Mauer was on the bench to rest, the day after his botched, widely panned bunt attempt. ... The Twins have yet to be swept in 16 series at Target Field. ... Thome walked four times. ... Young, sixth in the AL with 67 RBIs, is second in the majors since May 21 with 51 runs driven in. ... Anthony Slama made his major league debut for the Twins in the ninth, striking out two.