CLEVELAND -- As more than 22,000 fans stood and cheered a season of starts unlike any they'd ever seen, Cliff Lee sat in the dugout lost in his thoughts.
He never heard the rousing ovation.And as far as Lee was concerned, he didn't deserve one.Lee couldn't hold a two-run lead in the seventh inning and was denied his 23rd win, finishing with a no-decision against Minnesota -- the only AL team to beat him -- as the Cleveland Indians completed a three-game sweep with a 6-4 win Wednesday night over the Twins, another gnawing loss for the Central's second-place team.Jhonny Peralta and Victor Martinez hit RBI doubles in the seventh inning off Matt Guerrier as the Indians prevented the Twins from gaining ground on Chicago. The White Sox lost 5-1 at New York but stayed 2 1/2 games ahead of Minnesota entering the season's home stretch.Lee took a 4-2 lead into the seventh and was poised to improve his record to 23-2 -- only the second pitcher to own that record in 108 years -- when the Twins tied it."I went about as deep as I could," Lee said. "They made me work."Alexi Casilla reached on third baseman Jamey Carroll's error and Joe Mauer doubled. With runners at second and third and none out, manager Eric Wedge visited Lee but decided to leave him in. Casilla scored on Justin Morneau's groundout, and Lee got two strikes on Delmon Young before the outfielder, who fouled off several pitches, grounded an outside pitch to right to even it at 4-all.As soon as Wedge came out a second time, Lee yelled in frustration before handing over the ball. He pounded his fist into his glove as he sprinted to the dugout. Although Indians fans tried to bring him out with a curtain call to salute the left-hander's last start at Progressive Field, Lee sat on the bench rubbing his head and pondering one of the few times he wasn't able to get the job done.Lee was unaware that Cleveland fans spent several minutes applauding his efforts."I was so focused on what just happened, I didn't hear anything," he said. "I was just frustrated with the way things went in that inning. I was caught up in the moment."Shin Soo-Choo's two-run single in the fifth had given Lee a 4-2 lead. If he had hung on and gotten two more outs to win his 12th straight decision, Lee would have joined Hall of Famer Lefty Grove (1931) as the only pitchers since 1900 to have 23 victories in 25 decisions. Lee, who hasn't lost since July 6 against Minnesota, gave up three earned runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings."We wanted to beat him, not tie him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Lee.With Lee on the bench, the Indians pushed two runs across in the seventh, Carroll reached on a fielder's choice against Jose Mijares (0-1). One out later, Peralta doubled off Matt Guerrier to bring Carroll home and Martinez, whose homer in the 11th on Tuesday gave Cleveland a 12-9 win after blowing an 8-1 lead, pulled his double down the right-field line.Indians reliever Edward Mujica (2-2) finished the seventh, Rafael Perez worked out of a two-on, two-out mess in the eighth and Jensen Lewis, pitching for the fourth straight day, got three outs for his 10th save.Morneau had three hits and two RBIs -- giving him a league-leading 128 -- and rookie Carlos Gomez homered for the Twins, who have lost four straight."It's just so frustrating," Gardenhire said. "What we're doing is just not enough. Now we go play one of the hottest teams [Tampa Bay] and that's another big challenge."Lee trailed 2-0 in the fourth when the Indians tied it in on homers by Peralta and Travis Hafner, who recently returned to Cleveland after missing three months with a weak right shoulder.With one out, Peralta hit his 22nd homer -- and first since Aug. 21. One out later, Hafner, who was activated from the disabled list on Sept. 9, pulled Baker's fastball into the seats in right-center, a 430-foot shot for just his fifth homer this season and first in four months.
Twins 1B Brian Buscher left in the seventh with a jammed thumb. ... Lee is the eighth pitcher since 1956 to go at least 20 games over .500, joining Don Newcombe (1956), Whitey Ford (1961), Sandy Koufax (1963), Denny McLain (1968), Ron Guidry (1978), Dwight Gooden (1985), Roger Clemens (1986) and Bob Welch (1990). All seven went on to win the Cy Young Award. ... According to Elias Sports Bureau, Cleveland's 12-9 win in 11 innings marked the first time in 44 years that the Indians, who led 8-1, rallied to win after blowing a seven-run lead. Gardenhire admitted it wasn't easy shaking off the loss. "You don't get past it," said Gardenhire, who didn't get to sleep until 3:30 a.m. "You go back to your room and you're exhausted. You watch television, but you're not really paying attention to it."