MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Paul Byrd pitched his best game of the season without his best stuff.
Byrd threw his first complete game in more than a year, scattering seven hits to lead the Indians over the Minnesota Twins 3-2 on Thursday."You have games where you don't have your fastball, and today was one of those days," Byrd said. "I was grunting, moaning and doing all I can, but they were coming out 83, 84 [mph]. I just switched game plans and tried to throw a little slower. Today, it worked."Byrd (8-6) struck out three and walked none in his 14th complete game, his first since July 1, 2005, for the Los Angeles Angels at Kansas City. He had not recorded a decision in four starts since
beating the Angels on July 19."I guess we just got outpitched today, bottom line," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He pitched very, very well. He changed speeds. He knows what he's doing."Cleveland, which leads with the major leagues with 10 complete games, stopped a five-game road losing streak and avoided a three-game sweep.Hector Luna had an RBI triple and Joe Inglett and Victor Martinez each had a sacrifice fly, helping Byrd improve to 5-1 at the Metrodome.Matt Garza (0-2), a 22-year-old right-hander making his second big-league start, allowed three runs and five hits in five innings. In his debut Aug. 11, he gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings against Toronto."Toward the end, we saw a little of what we hope we'll see his next start. He started using his breaking ball instead of throwing all fastballs," Gardenhire said. "It's a learning process for him."Justin Morneau hit his 31st homer for the Twins, who have the major leagues' best home record at 42-19 but have lost six of their past nine at the Metrodome.Minnesota fell to two games behind the front-running Chicago White Sox in the race for the AL wild card. The Twins host the White Sox for a three-games series starting Friday."It's a huge series. We all know that," Gardenhire said. "You can't escape it. You can't hide from it. They're a great team -- they've won the division and the World Series. So we're the ones who are going to have to come out and compete."Garza needed 27 pitches to get through the first inning, and Cleveland took a 2-0 lead in the second on Luna's RBI triple and Inglett's sacrifice fly.Morneau homered in the second, a drive that bounced off the glove of left fielder Franklin Gutierrez at the wall. Martinez's RBI made it 3-1 in the third.Garza needed 71 pitches to get through three innings, but he settled down his final two, allowing just one runner and striking out two."I'm just going to take this and run with it," said Garza, who was the Twins' first-round amateur draft pick last year and started this season at Class A Fort Myers. "I felt better the last few innings."Joe Mauer had a run-scoring single to shortstop that Luna couldn't handle with two outs in the eighth, but with two on Byrd fanned Michael Cuddyer."I threw a 3-2 changeup down the middle, and he was in front of it," Byrd said.Said Cuddyer: "You hope to come through in those situations, but unfortunately you can't always."Morneau led off he ninth with a drive to center that Grady Sizemore grabbed on the warning track. Byrd needed just 100 pitches in all."That was about as efficient a performance as you could have," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said.
Twins third baseman Nick Punto (bruised left knee) sat out a third consecutive game. Luis Rodriguez started in his place ... Sizemore went 0-for-5 and finished the series 0-for-12. ... Indians third baseman Andy Marte ended an 0-for-11 skid with a ninth-inning single.