Jason Kipnis finished a double shy of the cycle and Scott Kazmir struck out seven for his first victory in nearly three years to guide the Cleveland Indians to a 7-3 win over the Minnesota Twins in the middle installment of a three-game set at Progressive Field.
"It feels good to just get that monkey off my back I guess," said Kazmir. "It's been a while. Today felt great, I was able to attack the strike zone. I just felt good out there."
Kipnis went 3-for-4 with two RBI, two runs scored and his sixth stolen base as the Tribe won their sixth straight and secured their fifth series win of the season. Nick Swisher returned from a three-game absence and also homered, while Mark Reynolds had two hits with an RBI.
Kazmir (1-1) hurled six strong innings in his first home start of the season. He allowed two runs on five hits and one walk for his first win since Sept. 19, 2010 while pitching for the Angels.
"I thought he really pitched," said Indians manager Terry Francona. "He started to throw his fastball in and that opened up the plate for everything else and he was very effective."
Aaron Hicks hit his first major league homer for Minnesota, which managed only seven hits. Kevin Correia (3-2) yielded four runs on six hits in five innings to absorb the loss.
"His pitches were just off the plate," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "It's not like he was missing really bad, but they were balls. I trust the guy, he's going to throw the ball over, that's what he does, and today it just didn't work."
Kipnis and Swisher went deep two batters apart in the first inning to give Kazmir some early run support.
After the Twins got one back in the top of the second on Pedro Florimon's RBI single, Cleveland tacked on two more in the bottom of the frame.
With two away and two on, Michael Brantley and Kipnis poked consecutive RBI singles to left field. Kipnis then stole second and Asdrubal Cabrera drew a walk, but Correia settled down and got Swisher to line out to right.
Hicks' homer came off Kazmir in the fifth inning, pulling the Twins within 4-2.
Cabrera and Reynolds provided Cleveland with insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Kipnis earned his second triple in as many games on a deep drive to the warning track that Hicks got his glove on but was unable to corral. Cabrera followed with a double off the wall in right field, and two batters later Reynolds roped a single back up the middle, scoring Cabrera.
Ryan Doumit singled home a run in the top of the eighth and Ezequiel Carrera accounted for the final margin with an RBI base hit in the bottom of the inning.
Kazmir struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth on 11 pitches ... The Indians now have at least 10 hits in six straight games ... Kipnis is 5-for-9 with six RBI over the first two games of the series ... Cleveland was 5-for-7 with runners in scoring position, while Minnesota went just 2-for-12.