MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- In a tight race for the AL wild card, the Cleveland Indians have little room for error the rest of the way, let alone two.
AL wild-card standings
Aaron Boone and Bobby Howry made throwing errors in the ninth Saturday night, giving the Minnesota Twins a 3-2 win over the Indians after Cleveland had rallied in the top of the inning."The bottom half got away from us a little bit, but we fought back and put ourselves in position," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "We just couldn't finish it."Coco Crisp's sacrifice fly tied the score at 2 in the top of the ninth following a leadoff double by Casey Blake off Joe Nathan
(7-3), but the Twins won it in the bottom half.Juan Castro led off the bottom of the inning with a bunt single to third off Howry (6-3) and advanced to second when Boone's throw sailed past first baseman Jose Hernandez.Nick Punto followed with another bunt down the third base line. Howry picked it up, but his throw to first was also off the mark, glancing off Punto and allowing Castro to come home with the winning run."We could have gotten him, definitely," Howry said. "I just tried to rush it and it got away from me."Minnesota's rally was eerily similar to one in a victory over Boston on Aug. 6. In that game, Michael Cuddyer reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error by third baseman Bill Mueller.Cuddyer scored when Boston reliever Mike Timlin threw the ball away on a bunt by Punto."I think I'm leading the league in walk-off bunts," Punto said with a smile. "It's nice to get a win any way you can. If it's a walk-off bunt, that's fine with me."Minnesota pulled within five games of the AL wild-card lead, while Cleveland lost for only the fourth time in its last 15 games and remained one game back.Johan Santana and Nathan combined on a three-hitter, with Santana allowing one run and two hits in eight innings and striking out 10. He gave up Victor Martinez's single in the fifth and Travis Hafner's solo home run in the seventh."It's unfortunate we're not scoring enough runs for him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's the best left-hander in this league, there's no doubt in my mind. And he may be the best pitcher."Cleveland's Kevin Millwood gave up two runs and nine hits in seven innings in another start in which he was given little run support. He was coming off a 2-1 loss to Toronto in which he threw a six-hitter."I feel like I answer that after every game lately," Millwood said. "There's nothing I can do about that. I have to worry about the things I can control. That, I can't control."
The Twins auctioned off autographed sports memorabilia during the game. Instead of the proceeds going to the Community Fund as usual, the Twins donated them to the Salvation Army and
American Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief. ... Cleveland reliever David Riske served the second of a three-game suspension for hitting Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki. ... By striking out Blake in the third, Santana became just the fifth pitcher in Twins
history to have back-to-back 200 strikeout seasons, joining Bert Blyleven, Jim Kaat, Camilo Pascual and Dean Chance. ... Jhonny Peralta struck out four times.