MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Mitch Talbot turned in another strong start for Cleveland, and the Indians finally got some hits in an 8-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.
Talbot (2-1) followed his first major league win, a complete game last weekend against the Chicago White Sox, with six impressive innings. He held the Twins to two hits and no earned runs to keep them from sweeping the three-game series.
The Indians, who were last in the league in batting average and slugging percentage entering this game, matched their season high with eight runs.
The right-handed Talbot walked three, struck out three and watched Andy Marte give him a healthy lead with a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Marte also hit a sinking RBI single to center in the sixth.
This was the worst of four starts this season for Scott Baker (2-2), who surrendered back-to-back ground-rule doubles — one down each line — to Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore to start the game. Baker was tagged with six runs before his day was done.
Cleveland led 3-1 in the sixth, when Baker gave up five straight one-out hits and was taken out of the game. He threw 92 pitches, 69 of them strikes — some of them big, fat strikes the Indians used to jump-start their lagging offense.
Russell Branyan doubled and drove in two runs, and Luis Valbuena also hit an RBI double. The last time Baker gave up 10 hits was exactly a year ago, in a game at Boston against the Red Sox.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire rested catcher Joe Mauer for only the second time in 16 games this season, his body a bit sore as typical for a day game following a night game. Rookie Drew Butera started instead and got his first major league hit, a groundball single to left field in the third inning.
Butera, the son of former Twins catcher Sal Butera, is here strictly for his defense — and he helped save Baker from another run in the sixth by throwing out Marte trying to steal second right before Valbuena's double.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy also sat out for the Twins for the first time, his knee a little sore. Alexi Casilla filled in admirably in the field, shifting to the right side for pure-pull-hitter Travis Hafner. Casilla charged a slow grounder in the fourth and shoveled it forward in one motion as he sprawled toward first base to get the out.
Cabrera made an even better play for the Indians, diving to stop a sharp grounder by Michael Cuddyer and starting a double play to end the seventh inning.
Marte cost Talbot his only run, dropping a foul popup near third base hit by Orlando Hudson. Hudson walked, moved up on a balk on Talbot's pickoff throw, took third on a fly out and scored in the fourth on Justin Morneau's double.
NOTES: Twins 3B Nick Punto missed his sixth straight game because of a sore groin muscle. He might get another day to rest on Friday, with rain expected in Kansas City for the game against the Royals. ... Matt LaPorta started in LF for the Indians for the first time this season.