Two trends continued for Cleveland with Saturday night's 3-0 loss at Minnesota: Rookie starter Zach McAllister struggled to put hitters away and the Indians offense sputtered.
While McAllister didn't give up runs in bunches to the Twins, he lasted only three innings because he needed 87 pitches to record nine outs. The outing was his second-shortest this season and the third straight start in which he didn't pitch into the sixth inning.
As a result, McAllister (6-6) — who has given up 14 runs in his past 12 1-3 innings — lost for the sixth time in his past seven decisions.
"Zach just had way too many pitches in three innings," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "He couldn't put guys away. He had 10 out of 15 hitters with two strikes and only ended up with one strikeout. In those situations, four of those guys ended up getting on base."
McAllister, who gave up two runs and two hits, said he thought he pitched better than he did last Sunday against Texas.
"As far as stuff-wise, I was much more pleased with it and execution-wise, I was pleased with it," McAllister said. "It doesn't matter, I didn't do my job and it isn't fun coming out on the losing end."
McAllister said he was surprised he didn't get a chance to pitch the fourth, but Acta had seen enough.
"It's September, it's a kid that we care about and value a lot," Acta said. "I couldn't let him go any farther after 87 pitches in three innings of work.
"He's not finishing guys off. You need to have a swing-and-miss pitch and over the last couple of outings he hasn't had it."
Those two early runs were too much for the Cleveland offense to overcome against Twins starter Cole DeVries (5-5).
Cleveland, which is 13th in the American League in runs, didn't get a runner past second base all game. The Indians managed only one baserunner after the second inning — Shin-Soo Choo led off the sixth with a single — and he was erased on an inning-ending double play. All told, DeVries and the Twins bullpen retired 21 of the Cleveland's final 22 batters.
"We struggled with their kid once he started throwing breaking balls for strikes," Acta said. "We hit a lot of fly balls on the wrong day with the wind blowing in. We couldn't string any offense together. I think our best chance was in the very first inning when we had first and second, no outs and we didn't do anything."
The Indians have been shut out four times in their last 19 games and are 15-39 since the All-Star break.
Joe Mauer had an RBI single and Josh Willingham added a sacrifice fly in a two-run third inning for Minnesota, which had lost four of five.
Ben Revere had two hits and two stolen bases for the Twins, who are trying to avoid ending consecutive seasons in the AL Central basement and now trail Cleveland — which led the division at one point in June — by just two games.
DeVries (5-5) gave up four hits and walked one. Three relievers combined for three hitless innings, with Glen Perkins working the ninth for his 11th save in 14 chances.
Notes: The Twins retired the No. 10 before the game in honor of former manager Tom Kelly. Kelly led the team to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991, and is the club's all-time leader in managerial wins with 1,140. Kelly was credited with creating the "Twins Way", an emphasis on fundamentals the team has been known for since he took over as manager in 1987. "TK was all about respecting the game of baseball," said current manager Ron Gardenhire, who succeeded Kelly in 2002. "He preached that constantly, on how we take the field, playing hard." ... Willingham drew two walks to give him 69 for the season, a career high and seventh in the AL. Willingham has established career highs in walks, home runs (33), RBIs (102) and runs scored (81). ... RHP Esmerling Vasquez (0-1, 7.94) will make his second start for Minnesota in the third game of the four-game series on Sunday. Vasquez allowed five runs in 5 2-3 innings in a 6-4 loss at Kansas City last weekend, his first appearance for the Twins since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester. RHP Corey Kluber (1-3, 4.79) is scheduled to pitch for the Indians, coming off his first career win on Monday against Detroit when he pitched six innings and gave up two runs.