CLEVELAND — Jason Kipnis hit a three-run homer that broke a sixth-inning tie and sent the Cleveland Indians over the Minnesota Twins 5-3 on Thursday.
The AL Central-leading Indians opened a 14-game lead over second-place Minnesota. Cleveland is 31-11 against division opponents, and needed this win to beat the Twins 10-9 in the season series.
Kipnis’ high drive off reliever Alan Busenitz barely cleared the wall in right field and capped a four-run inning.
Mike Clevinger (10-7) allowed two unearned runs in 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out nine and gave up four hits.
Brad Hand, the Indians’ third reliever, allowed a leadoff homer to Miguel Sano in the ninth. Mitch Garver drew a one-out walk, but Hand struck out Jake Cave and Tyler Austin for his 30th save overall, and sixth since being acquired from San Diego at the trade deadline.
Cleveland reliever Cody Allen, who allowed two runs in the seventh inning and was the losing pitcher Wednesday, was booed when he entered the game with one out in the eighth.
The frequent closer walked Logan Forsythe, but retired Robbie Grossman on a flyball. Forsythe was thrown out trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt.
Jake Odorizzi (5-9) was charged with three runs in 5 1/3 innings. He was pulled following one-out walks to Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion. Yonder Alonso‘s RBI single off Busenitz tied the game.
Melky Cabrera flied out before Kipnis, who has struggled offensively most of the season, lofted a 2-2 pitch that was just out of the reach of leaping right fielder Max Kepler.
Ehre Adrianza hit a two-run homer in the fifth that gave Minnesota a
2-1 lead. The drive came after Ramirez misplayed a routine grounder to third base.
Encarnacion’s RBI single put Cleveland ahead in the fourth. Michael Brantley led off with a double. Encarnacion took the count to 3-2 and tossed his sunglasses to Alonso, the on-deck hitter, before hitting the next pitch to right field.
Clevinger appeared to be hit in the upper leg by Forsythe’s grounder in the fourth, but recovered in time to throw him out at first.
Clevinger limped around the mound, but stayed in the game after throwing a few warmup pitches. Carlos Carrasco was struck on his glove hand by Adrianza’s line drive Tuesday, but also remained in the game. Carrasco missed three weeks after being hit in the right elbow by Joe Mauer’s liner in June.
Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario pulled up after beating out a ground ball later in the fourth. He stayed in the game despite having a noticeable limp, but was removed in the bottom of the fifth with a strained right quad.
Twins: SS Jorge Polanco (hamstring/leg cramps) was held out of his third straight game, but performed some light running on the field. He was injured Sunday against Oakland.
Indians: RHP Nick Goody (sore elbow) will have arthroscopic surgery Friday. He’s been out since May 3.
Twins LHP Stephen Gonsalves (0-2, 11.37 ERA) takes on Rangers RHP Drew Hutchison (2-2, 6.52 ERA) as Minnesota continues its nine-game road trip.
Indians RHP Corey Kluber (16-7, 2.91 ERA) faces Rays RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 3.80 ERA) in the opener of a three-game series.