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Fausto Carmona blanks Minnesota on 3 hits, leads Indians to 2-0 win over 1st-place Twins

Fausto Carmona pitched a three-hitter for his first shutout in more than two years, slowing Minnesota's September surge and leading the Cleveland Indians to a 2-0 win over the AL Central-leading Twins on Friday night.

Carmona (12-14) had lost his last six decisions, falling 1-0 in a complete-game start against Seattle his last time out. The right-hander dominated the Twins, who just completed an 8-1 homestand and lost for only the second time in nine games this month.

Carmona retired the final 16 batters, striking out four of the final six. It was Carmona's third career shutout and first since blanking Toronto on May 12, 2008.

Minnesota entered the weekend series with a six-game lead over Chicago. The White Sox are hosting Kansas City.

Matt LaPorta homered in the second inning off Carl Pavano (16-11), who allowed just two runs and six hits but lost for the fourth time in five starts.

The Twins came in as the league's hottest team — and baseball's best since the All-Star break. Minnesota had increased its division lead by three games already this week, but Carmona and the cellar-dwelling Indians cooled them down on a crisp, late-summer night.

Carmona didn't overpower Minnesota's lineup, but he had the Twins guessing and over-swinging at his pitches. He walked one, struck out seven and got inning-ending double plays to end the third and fourth. The right-hander continued his comeback season after going 5-12 and being sent down to the lowest level of the minor leagues last year.

The Twins never put two runners on at the same time in any inning, and only got one to third when Denard Span tripled after Carmona induced a double play in the third. Orlando Hudson then lined out to third to end Minnesota's best scoring threat.

The Twins were without designated hitter Jim Thome, who sat out for the second straight game with a mild abdominal strain. The former Indians slugger has been on a home run tear and is tied with Frank Robinson for eighth place on the career homers list with 586.

LaPorta staked Carmona to a 1-0 lead in the second with his 10th homer. LaPorta, who hit a game-ending shot against the Twins on Aug. 6, drove a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left-center for just his second hit in 19 at-bats.

The Indians added one run in the fifth to make it 2-0, but missed a chance at a bigger inning after opening with a single by Jason Donald and Lou Marson's double. Pavano retired Michael Brantley on a line drive, and after Asdrubal Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly, the right-hander got Shin Soo-Choo to bounce out to first.

NOTES: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire expects Thome to be in Saturday's lineup. Among his many career achievements is the longest homer in Progressive Field history. He hit a 511-footer in 1999 off Kansas City's Don Wengert when the ballpark was still called Jacobs Field. ... The Indians currently have 10 rookies on their roster, tied with Detroit for most in the AL. ... Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who is being treated for leukemia, watched the game from the 91-year-old's usual press box seat. ... Twins reliever Brian Fuentes underwent an MRI for his sore back on Wednesday. He is scheduled to pitch a bullpen session Saturday.