Published September 20, 2012
| Sports Network
Cleveland, OH – Josh Willingham went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer and four RBI, and young Minnesota starter Liam Hendriks pitched six solid innings of two-run ball, as the Minnesota Twins downed the Cleveland Indians, 6-4, Wednesday in the second of a three-game set at Progressive Field.
Hendriks (1-7) gave up just two hits while striking out two and walking two. It was his first victory in the big leagues and helped the Twins win for a second time in this set after dropping three straight to Chicago.
"It was a nice win for us, and was nice to get the young man a win," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire of Hendriks. "Him and [Twins catcher Chris Herrmann] got together and did a nice job and put us in a position to win a game, and fortunately for us, we hung in there."
His counterpart of the night, Indians starter Zach McAllister (5-8), didn't fare as well, taking the loss while allowing eight hits and four runs in just 4 1/3 innings.
"He had a very low percentage of first-pitch strikes, and couldn't put guys away at some point," said Indians manager Manny Acta. "The righties were kind of giving him a lot of issues today, because of Willingham and Carroll."
Jason Kipnis had two RBI and Vinny Rottino scored two runs for Cleveland, which is now 2-12 in the last 14 meetings against the Twins.
The Indians struck early, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera launched a solo shot off Hendriks to right-center.
After the Twins moved ahead 2-1 in the top of the third on RBI singles by Joe Mauer and Willingham, Cleveland tied the game in the bottom half of the frame. With Rottino -- whom Hendriks had walked earlier in the inning -- on third, a single by Kipnis scored him.
While sloppy defense in the bottom of the fourth almost cost Minnesota another run to the Indians, they managed to escape by stranding a runner at third.
After reaching base on a fielding error by shortstop Pedro Florimon, Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner moved to second on a wild pitch by Hendriks and then up to third on a passed ball that catcher Herrmann couldn't handle.
September callup Russ Canzler followed by hitting a sharp fielder's choice ground ball to third baseman Trevor Plouffe, and Hafner made the mistake of immediately breaking home from third base.
Hafner's baserunning gamble allowed the Twins to come out of the inning unscathed when Plouffe fielded the ball and fired home in plenty of time to get Hafner and Lonnie Chisenhall grounded out to end the frame.
McAllister's night on the mound ended early in the top of the fifth after 91 pitches. He issued a one-out walk to Mauer, and followed that with a mistake over the plate to Willingham, which the Twins slugger launched deep to left for his 35th home run of the year and his third RBI of the game.
Acta called upon reliever Chris Seddon to take over for McAllister, but Seddon was unable to stop the Twins from further damage. Seddon immediately gave up a walk and two singles to Twins hitters before a fielder's choice by Herrmann brought home another run, putting the Twins up 5-2.
Willingham's fourth RBI of the game came off Seddon in the sixth, when he singled home Denard Span to make it a 6-2 game.
Kipnis got a run back for the Indians in the bottom of the eighth, again singling Rottino home, and Michael Brantley later knocked home Kipnis to pull the Indians within two.
But closer Glen Perkins worked around a one-out single by Chisenhall in the ninth to earn his 13th save of the year.
Span's steal of second base in the sixth was the 26th straight base that Minnesota has stolen without getting caught ... Cleveland is now just 17-47 since the All Star break ... McAllister hasn't won in his past seven starts, picking up his last win in an Aug. 11 game versus the Boston Red Sox.