MINNEAPOLIS – Danny Valencia and Michael Cuddyer hit home runs and Brian Duensing got his 10th win as the Minnesota Twins beat the Cleveland Indians 9-3 on Monday night.
The victory cut the Twins' magic number for winning the AL Central to three. Chicago, which is in second place, played later at Oakland.
Cuddyer's two-run shot capped the Twins' four-run sixth after the Indians had closed within 4-3 in the top of the inning.
Duensing (10-2) has allowed three runs or fewer in 10 of 11 starts this season. The left-hander entered the rotation midseason in both 2009 and 2010 and is 7-0 in 10 home starts.
Run-scoring singles from Andy Marte and Drew Sutton cut the Twins' lead to 4-3 in the sixth, but Minnesota manager Rod Gardenhire let Duensing work out of the jam and he struck out Lou Marson and got Michael Brantley to line out with the bases loaded to preserve the lead.
Gardenhire was showing confidence in a starter who will likely be a part of the playoff rotation.
Valencia continues to be one of the Twins' hottest hitters. His 409-foot homer in the fourth inning reached the second deck at Target Field and was the rookie's third in four games.
The Twins couldn't figure out Cleveland's young pitchers during the team's last series, but had no problems with 22-year-old Jeanmar Gomez (3-5) on Monday. Gomez, who allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings, is winless in his last six starts.
Delmon Young and Denard Span both had two RBIs for the Twins, while J.J. Hardy had three hits and scored three times.
Marte drove an RBI triple off the center field wall in the second inning and finished with two hits and two RBIs.
Notes: Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera left the game in the sixth inning with a left wrist strain. He is day to day. ... The Twins are a major-league best 44-18 since the All-Star break. ... Gardenhire said RHP Kevin Slowey will likely start next Tuesday against Kansas City, then work out of the bullpen the rest of the season. The Twins are trying to set their playoff rotation while getting regular starters Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano adequate rest leading up to the postseason. ... Indians OF Shin-Soo Choo was named AL player of the week. Choo hit .500 during the week and homered and stole a base on Sunday to reach 20-20 for the second straight season. ... Brantley's 19-game hitting streak was snapped.