|Cleveland Indians' Derek Lowe delivers against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game Friday, June 1, 2012, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)|
Indians slam Twins 7-1
CLEVELAND—Derek Lowe shut down Minnesota's lineup with ease for the second time this season and Jason Kipnis hit a grand slam, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 7-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
Lowe (7-3) carried a two-hit shutout into the seventh before the Twins scratched out a run on three hits. The right-hander pitched a complete game shutout against the Twins on May 15.
Kipnis connected for his slam in the fourth off Carl Pavano (2-5) as the Indians, who have been rocked by injuries lately, won for just the second time in seven games,
Lonnie Chisenhall hit a two-run homer in the second for Cleveland, which has won 11 of 12 over Minnesota.
The Twins had their winning streak stopped at three and fell to an AL-worst 18-33.
Lowe opened the season as the Indians' No. 3 starter, but with Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez struggling, he became the staff's ace.
He certainly didn't look like one in his previous outing, when he was banged around for eight runs and 10 hits in 2 1-3 innings by the Chicago White Sox. However, against the Twins, Lowe has been overpowering. In two outings against Minnesota, he has allowed just one run in 15 2-3 innings.
Catcher Ryan Doumit had three of Minnesota's six hits off Lowe, who has been especially tough at Progressive Field, going 4-1 with a 1.37 ERA in six starts.
The right-hander, who turned 39 on Friday, was back by solid defense as the Indians turned two double plays and left fielder Johnny Damon made a diving catch to rob Denard Span in the sixth.
The Indians have been hit hard by injuries and the club recently dropped into second place after leading the AL Central most of this season.
Sensing the team needed a spark, former Indians second baseman Carlos Baerga burst into the clubhouse before the game hollering, "Let's go. We need a win." Baerga greeted Lowe with a big hug and interrupted a card game as he worked the room slapping and shaking hands with players.
The pep talk appeared to work as the Indians responded with one of their better all-around performances in weeks.
As another Indians' famous face from the 1990s -- slugger Albert Belle -- was being interviewed on the team's TV broadcast, Kipnis delivered a blast that reminded Cleveland fans of those bashing teams of the not-too-distant past. He connected for his first career grand slam and first for the Indians this season to make it 7-0 in the fourth.
Chisenhall hit a one-out single, No. 9 hitter Lou Marson walked and Shin-Soo Choo singled to load the bases off Pavano, who was then visited on the mound by pitching coach Rick Anderson. Pavano didn't get the message because he mistakenly grooved his next pitch to Kipnis, who launched it over the wall in right-center for his team-leading ninth homer.
Earlier, Kipnis had survived two rough plays at second base, both involving Doumit. In the first, Kipnis was struck on the helmet with Doumit's throw on a steal, was checked by a trainer and stayed in the game. In the second, Cleveland's second baseman was taken out while turning a double play on an aggressive slide by Doumit.
Pavano didn't finish the fourth and was charged with six earned runs and nine hits in 3 2-3 innings. The right-hander dropped to 0-3 in his last five starts with an 8.25 ERA.
Chisenhall's two-out homer in the second put the Indians up 2-0.
Recalled earlier this week when third baseman Jack Hannahan was placed on the 15-day disabled list, Chisenhall drove an 0-2 pitch from Pavano over the wall for his second homer. Chisenhall homered in his first at-bat of the season on Monday in a win over Kansas City.
Michael Brantley's RBI double gave the Indians a 3-0 lead in the third.
The Twins have been in a hole since the season started. After sweeping Oakland, Minnesota came in with some momentum for one of the first times but were stopped dead by Lowe the Indians.
Joe Mauer went 0 for 4 and his hitless in his last 10 at-bats.
NOTES: Indians C Carlos Santana has improved from a concussion and is expected to be back in the lineup in a few days. Santana was placed on MLB's new 7-day concussion list after being struck in the mask by a foul tip last week in Chicago. Santana took batting practice before the game and will catch a bullpen session Saturday. ... The Twins did not turn a double play, but came in leading the majors with 73. They're on pace to break the record held by the 1956 New York Yankees, who had 213. ... Indians C Lou Marson started after missing three games. He was hit in the mouth last weekend in Chicago and needed stitches.