CLEVELAND (AP) -- It wasn't perfectly drawn, but Minnesota's first win in a week looked like a masterpiece to the Twins.
Justin Morneau drove in three runs and Jason Kubel hit a homer to help the Twins defeat the Cleveland Indians 8-5, snapping a six-game losing streak Wednesday night."It was a sigh of relief to be able to exhale a bit," said Michael Cuddyer, who scored twice and made a key diving catch in right field to help Minnesota move two games ahead of third-place Cleveland in the AL Central.Nick Blackburn (5-4) won for the first time since May 16, allowing two runs and seven hits over six innings. Jesse Crain struck out three over 1 1/3 innings and Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his 17th save in 18 chances after Grady Sizemore hit a three-run homer with two outs in the seventh to get Cleveland within 6-5.Boof Bonser walked David Dellucci and yielded a single to Casey Blake to open the seventh. The right-hander got two quick outs and was replaced by left-hander Dennys Reyes. Sizemore, hitting .219 against lefties, lined a 2-2 pitch over the wall in right for his 13th homer."It's amazing when you go through a streak like this that you don't give up singles, but three-run homers," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I can handle a single there -- but a homer?"Jesse did a super, super job and we tacked on the insurance runs to get it to Joe. It was good to see Nathan out there, we haven't got many games to him lately."Alexi Casilla extended his hitting streak to 13 games with an RBI single in the ninth to make it 7-5. He stole second and scored on a two-out double by Morneau.Indians catcher Victor Martinez left after one inning. The Indians announced that he will undergo an MRI Thursday to check on an inflamed right elbow, the latest in a string of injuries to the defending division champions. Right-hander Jake Westbrook is scheduled for season-ending elbow surgery Thursday, right-hander Fausto Carmona has been sidelined since May 24 with a strained left hip and designated hitter Travis Hafner is on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder."Victor got hurt on a swing in the first inning," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He winced when it happened. It's something that's been bothering him on and off all year. It must have been one of those swings that bit him a little more than usual."Martinez led Cleveland a year ago with 25 homers, 114 RBIs and a .301 average, but has no homers and only 21 RBIs in 198 at-bats this season. He's batting .278, but only .216 (25-for-116) since April 30.Kubel's two-run homer capped a five-run third off Paul Byrd (3-6) that put Minnesota ahead, 6-1. Morneau's two-run double broke a 1-1 tie. Cuddyer doubled home Morneau and scored when Kubel hit a 3-1 pitch over the wall in center for his seventh homer."It was like a pinball machine," Byrd said. "Balls were flying all over the place. I'll shoulder the blame. It's pretty much all on me. I'll be awake thinking about this. I'm frustrated."The Twins had been outscored 44-17, hit .178 (8-for-45) with runners in scoring position, and compiled an 8.08 ERA during their six-game slide -- their longest losing streak since dropping eight in a row, July 5-13, 2003.The Twins scored an unearned run on a sacrifice fly by Mike Lamb in the second.Jamey Carroll's RBI double tied it in the bottom half. Franklin Gutierrez tried to score from first on the play, but was thrown out to end the inning.Kelly Shoppach replaced Martinez and hit his third homer in the sixth to make it 6-2.Byrd gave up five earned runs and six hits over three innings -- his shortest outing since going three April 9 in Los Angeles against the Angels."When we score five runs we have to win," the right-hander said. "I'm a better pitcher than this."
Wedge said that if 2B Josh Barfield could not grip a bat "in a day or two," it could result in a trip to the disabled list because of a strained left middle finger. ... Gardenhire said the Twins will make a roster move following Thursday night's game. The club opens a three-game interleague series in Milwaukee on Friday and will add a position player. RHP Juan Rincon has a stiff neck and could go to the DL. ... Lamb went 0-for-2 to extend his slump to 0-for-22. ... Gomez has hit in 12 straight games. ... Byrd has yielded an AL-high 17 homers.