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Published: Saturday, 9/11/2010

Indians' Carmona shuts down hot Twins

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CLEVELAND - Fausto Carmona changed his grip, and finally his luck.

Using a wicked changeup to go with his sinful sinker, Carmona pitched a three-hitter for his first shutout in more than two years, slowing Minnesota's September surge and leading the Cleveland Indians to a 2-0 win over the AL Central-leading Twins Friday night.

Carmona (12-14) had lost his last six decisions, falling 1-0 in a complete-game start against Seattle on Sept. 3. This time he came out on top, dominating the Twins, who just completed an 8-1 homestand and lost for only the second time in nine games this month.

Carmona retired the final 16 batters, striking out four of the last six. It was his third career shutout and first since blanking Toronto on May 12, 2008.

"Fausto was filthy," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He had that good sinker, but the difference maker for him has been that changeup. They kept beating that sinker into the ground. He was fantastic."

On the advice of Cleveland coaches Tim Belcher and Scott Radinsky, Carmona slightly altered his grip three starts ago to take some velocity off his changeup. He was throwing the pitch too hard, and teams were sitting back and hitting it like it was a fastball.

The Twins flailed helplessly at it.

"We got stuffed by Carmona," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He dominated us. We didn't do too much against him. He ate us up. That's all you can say, the guy ate us up tonight."

Carmona completed the job in 1 hour, 57 minutes - the second-fastest game in Progressive Field history and fourth fastest in the majors this season.

Minnesota entered the weekend with a six-game lead over Chicago. The White Sox are hosting Kansas City for three games before the Twins come to Chicago for three next week.

Matt LaPorta homered in the second inning off Carl Pavano (16-11), who allowed just two runs and six hits but lost for the fourth time in five starts. The right-hander has been bothered by a stiff neck, and it was so bad in the morning that he visited a chiropractor.

The Twins came in as the league's hottest team - and baseball's best since the All-Star break. Minnesota had increased its division lead by three games already this week, but Carmona and the cellar-dwelling Indians cooled them down on a crisp, late-summer night.

Carmona didn't overpower Minnesota's lineup, but he had the Twins guessing and over-swinging at his pitches.



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