CLEVELAND – Matt LaPorta homered leading off the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Cleveland Indians a 7-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
LaPorta connected for his sixth homer off Matt Guerrier (2-7) after the Twins had tied it in the top half on a two-run single by Alexei Casilla off closer Chris Perez (1-2). Casilla had a career-high four RBIs.
The game-tying hit off Perez, who had not allowed a run over 15 outings since June 28, came after pinch-hitter Jim Thome had an apparent home run ruled a double. The umpires used replay to uphold their call after Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire protested. Some television angles showed the ball appeared to hit a railing above the yellow home-run line atop the wall in left-center.
Perez was seeking his ninth consecutive save and 14th in 17 chances.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Jayson Nix both had three hits for Cleveland, which handed the Twins their fourth loss in 16 games. Minnesota remained 1½ games behind first-place Chicago in the AL Central.
Shelley Duncan had a two-run double in Cleveland's three-run first inning off Francisco Liriano, breaking the left-hander's 21-inning scoreless streak. Duncan scored when Trevor Crowe grounded into a forceout.
Liriano tied a career high with six walks, making 109 pitches over 4 2-3 innings as his four-game winning streak was snapped. He struck out six and allowed seven hits and four runs.
Cabrera's RBI single made it 4-0 in the second. Cleveland then got runners to second and third, but Liriano had three straight strikeouts to get out of the jam.
Joe Mauer's sacrifice fly got the Twins to 4-1 in the third.
Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez gave up one run over 5 1-3 innings. He left after walking Mauer and yielding a one-out single to Jason Kubel. Justin Germano quickly ended the threat by getting Michael Cuddyer to bounce into a double play.
Michael Brantley, recalled from Triple-A Columbus before the game, walked to open the Indians' sixth and scored on a one-out double by Shin-Soo Choo to make it 5-1.
Casilla's two-run double off reliever Rafael Perez got Minnesota within 5-3 in the seventh. Both runs were unearned because of a throwing error by third baseman Nix. With two outs and runners on first and second, Casilla sent a drive into the left-field corner that was fielded by Crowe. Danny Valencia scored easily and Drew Butera was safe when catcher Lou Marson could not handle the relay throw from shortstop Cabrera.
Kubel's 14th homer in the eighth off Joe Smith made it 5-4.
Cabrera doubled and scored on a ground-rule double by Choo in the eighth. An over-zealous scoreboard operator triggered the fireworks that signal an Indians home run at Progressive Field. Maybe it rattled Choo, too. He was picked off second by Guerrier before the right-hander made another pitch.
Liriano was seeking to go to 4-0 this year over the Indians. Instead, he fell to 5-3 in his career against Cleveland.
Mauer, used at DH for the fourth straight game because of shoulder problems, went 0 for 3, but has hit .516 (17 for 33) with 15 RBIs in his last nine games.
NOTES: Minnesota signed its No. 1 draft pick, RHP Alex Wimmers, to a $1,332,000 bonus and sent him to Class A Fort Myers (Fla.). ... Cleveland signed its 11th-round pick, SS Hunter Jones from Lakewood (Calif.) High School. He is the son of former major leaguer Tracy Jones. ... Indians rookie C Carlos Santana had left knee surgery. The team expects him to be ready for 2011. ... Gardenhire said 1B Justin Morneau, out since July 16 with a concussion, told doctors he is feeling better and may start a rehab assignment soon.