Monday, September 14, 2009

Cuddyer's homer in 8th puts Twins past Indians 6-3

Cleveland Indians pitcher Jeremy Sowers winds up against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 14, 2009 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

MINNEAPOLIS — Michael Cuddyer's tying three-run homer rescued the Minnesota Twins in the eighth inning, ruining a fine start for Cleveland by Jeremy Sowers in a 6-3 victory over the Indians on Monday night.

Sowers stymied the Twins with his jerky left-handed delivery and left with a 3-0 lead after seven innings. Reliever Tony Sipp let the first two batters reach base in the eighth, though, the first coming on an error by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

Indians manager Eric Wedge summoned the right-handed Chris Perez to face Cuddyer, who crushed a fastball into the stacks of football seats behind center field. Cuddyer flipped his bat with a flick of the wrist as he strided toward first and handed out several hard high-fives on his approach to the plate and return to the dugout.

Cleveland Indians' Shin-Soo Choo, left, is congratulated by third base coach Joe Skinner after his home run off Minnesota Twins' Carl Pavano in the fourth inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 14, 2009, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Perez (0-1) is no batting practice pitcher, either. He struck out 30 with only 10 hits and two runs allowed over his previous 23 innings. After Cuddyer's homer, however, he collapsed.

Two singles. A wild pitch that let the go-ahead run score. Then a two-run shot into the upper deck by pinch-hitter Jason Kubel.

Joe Nathan notched his 39th save, another not-so-smooth ninth inning featuring a single and a walk with two outs.

But Jesse Crain and Ron Mahay (2-1) worked scoreless innings in relief before him, and the Twins kept pace in the AL Central race. They're 5 1/2 games behind Detroit, after the Tigers came back from a 5-2 bottom-of-the-ninth deficit to beat Toronto.

Carl Pavano, pitching against the Indians for the first time since they traded him to the Twins last month, was in command for six innings except for two balls his old teammates crushed. Trevor Crowe hit his first career homer, a two-run shot in the third, and Shin-Soo Choo went deep in the next inning.

Cleveland Indians' Trevor Crowe, right, is tagged out by Minnesota Twins third baseman Matt Tolbert as he tried to reach third on a hit and run in the fifth inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 14, 2009 in Minneapolis. Earlier, Crowe hit a two-run home run of Twins pitcher Carl Pavano. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Wedge was asked before the game about Choo's second-half power slump, and he expressed no concern about it because of the way he believes Choo has stayed disciplined — sidestepping temptation to swing for homers and potentially throw his approach out of whack.

Choo, in his first full season as a regular in the majors, has kept his average near .300 all summer. The right fielder from South Korea has 16 homers, but only three since July 7. Choo also went deep on Saturday against Kansas City.

NOTES: The Twins lead the league with 135 double plays grounded into. ... Concerned about some sloppiness he's seen recently in his young club, Wedge addressed the team in a 10-minute meeting before batting practice. ... Mauer (27), Cuddyer (25), and Kubel (23) have each established career highs in homers this year.


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