HANNAH FOSLIEN / AP Enlarge
MINNEAPOLIS - Paul Byrd made several changes after a rough outing against Minnesota last month. He altered his delivery, shaved his mustache and got a new glove.
A tip on his breaking ball from an unlikely source may have made the biggest difference in his resurgence.
Byrd tossed seven sharp innings to win his third straight start and Kelly Shoppach hit a two-run homer to lead the Cleveland Indians to a
5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins last night.
"When you get older you start to wonder, 'Have I just lost my mojo? Have guys figured me out?'•" Byrd said. "I don't know too many other ways I can change."
Byrd allowed one run and six hits to improve to 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA in four starts since he gave up six runs and eight hits in a loss to the Twins on July 4.
Byrd got a tip after that difficult day last month, and intimated it came from Twins broadcaster and former pitcher Bert Blyleven.
"I don't want to get him in trouble, but it's a broadcaster who should be in the Hall of Fame, but he's not," Byrd said with a grin.
Minnesota had a chance to move into first in the AL Central for the first time since May 13 but remained a half-game behind the Chicago White Sox, who lost 9-7 at Kansas City yesterday.
"We're right where we want to be - chasing," Justin Morneau said. "The pressure is on them [the White Sox] to keep winning and stay in first. In 2006, I don't think we were in first until the last day of the season."
Kevin Slowey (7-8) struggled for Minnesota, giving up five runs and six hits in six innings. The Indians hit two homers off the right-hander, who has surrendered 28 homers in 28 career starts.
Shoppach hit a two-run drive in the fourth inning to give Cleveland a 3-1 lead. It was the fourth homer in five games for Shoppach, who is hitting .390 since July 20.
David Dellucci started the three-run fourth with a routine flyball to left-center that dropped in for a double because of miscommunication between outfielders Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez. One batter later, Jhonny Peralta delivered an RBI double.
Dellucci hit a two-out, two-run homer in the fifth to make it 5-1.
The Twins opened the third with two bunt singles and a sacrifice bunt. Joe Mauer walked to load the bases for cleanup hitter Justin Morneau, who was 17-for-40 (.425) with three home runs against Byrd coming into the game.
Morneau hit a sacrifice fly to give Minnesota the lead, and Jason Kubel flied out to end the inning.
"He was throwing everything like he always does," Kubel said of Byrd. "He comes to the game knowing what he's going to do and he does it. He has a plan."
NOTES: The Indians said they hope C Victor Martinez, on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation, and INF Josh Barfield, on the DL with a finger sprain, will begin rehab assignments late this week.44.97903 -93.26493