MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Swarzak pitched five sharp innings in a fill-in start, Oswaldo Arcia homered and the Minnesota Twins beat the Cleveland Indians 3-1 Wednesday.
Danny Santana scored after two of his three hits for the Twins, and five relievers totaled six strikeouts over four scoreless innings. Glen Perkins finished up in the ninth for his 24th save in 27 tries.
When Kyle Gibson developed a sore back the day before, Swarzak (2-0) was summoned from the bullpen to replace him in the rotation. He threw 75 pitches, well over the limit the Twins had in mind, but the right-hander allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out three. He was only in trouble once.
Trevor Bauer (4-5) finished six innings for the 11th time in 14 starts this season for the Indians, but he lost for the first time in five July starts.
Swarzak has made 29 career starts, but this was his first since Oct. 2, 2012. Such a surprise assignment can be a challenge for a pitcher, but that can also work against an opponent that hasn’t prepared to face him.
Four of Swarzazk’s five innings were perfect.
In the third, Jose Ramirez poked a perfectly placed double down the third base line to drive in a run. Shortstop Eduardo Nunez made a slick diving stab of Michael Brantley’s sharp line drive up the middle, ending the inning with runners at second and third.
How the Twins needed this performance by Swarzak. They gave up 14 runs over the first three innings combined during the first five games of his homestand, losing four of those. After a recent return to respectability, the rotation has begun to backslide toward the level of those rough last three seasons.
The Indians had the go-ahead run at-bat with Michael Brantley in the eighth facing Brian Duensing with runners at second and third after a walk, an infield single and an error by Dozier. But Brantley popped out to end the inning.
Bauer struck out seven in six innings.
He gave up a triple to Santana in the third, followed by an RBI single to Sam Fuld. In the fifth, Brian Dozier drove in Santana with double. Then in the sixth, Arcia flipped his bat and slowly jogged around the bases after his two-out solo shot into the right field seats.
That was Arcia’s second homer in his last 35 games.
The Indians have only one error over their last 10 games. Their hitting with runners in scoring position has been productive lately. Their starting pitching has, too. But they still somehow lost two of three to the Twins, after winning a four-game series at division-leading Detroit to close in on the Tigers in the AL Central race. The Indians started the day 5 1-2 games back.
Ramirez batted second, immediately after being called up from Triple-A to play shortstop with Asdrubal Cabrera out for the second straight game. Ramirez had two hits.
NOTES: Cabrera’s back was much better after a day of significant discomfort. He likely won’t need to go on the disabled list. … The Twins plan to slide Gibson back into the rotation Saturday if he’s ready. “That’s just a hope. You never know with a back,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. If not, they’ll have to bring somebody else up from Triple-A. … The Indians move on to Kansas City Thursday for a four-game series, with RH Corey Kluber (10-6, 2.95 ERA) starting opposite LH Danny Duffy (5-10, 2.66 ERA) of the Royals. Kluber has allowed only 10 earned runs over his last six turns, totaling 44 strikeouts and only seven walks in 43-plus innings. … The Twins begin a four-game series here Thursday against Chicago, with RH Phil Hughes (10-6, 4.05 ERA) pitching and RH Hector Noesi (4-7, 5.21 ERA) taking the mound for the White Sox. Hughes and Kevin Correia are the only Twins who have made every start this season. … Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater threw out the ceremonial first pitch, the day before he reports to his first NFL training camp.