CLEVELAND — Samuel Deduno pitched six solid innings and Josh Willingham busted out of a slump with a two-run double in the seventh, leading the Minnesota Twins to a 5-1 win over Cleveland on Friday night, slowing the Indians’ climb toward a wild-card spot.
Deduno (8-7) allowed just one run and three hits for his first win since July 27 as the Twins continued to befuddle the Indians. Minnesota is 14-7 against Cleveland since last September.
Willingham was in an 0-for-15 slide before his double off Cody Allen put the Twins ahead 4-1.
Ubaldo Jimenez (9-8) struck out 10 in six innings, but the Indians didn’t support the right-hander and lost ground in the crowded wild-card field as well as the AL Central.
Cleveland was back home after a 6-3 road trip that put it back in the playoff conversation. One of six teams fighting for two wild-card berths, the Indians, as close to first as they’ve been this late in the season since 2007, were hoping to keep their momentum going against a Twins team playing for just pride with just over a month left in the regular season.
Minnesota, though, stopped Cleveland’s recent push. The Indians may want to make the playoffs, but didn’t show much urgency to get to October.
Deduno walked four, including three in the sixth, but was able to work around trouble. The right-hander was clinging to a 2-1 lead when the Twins, who are missing All-Star catcher Joe Mauer because of a concussion, scored twice in the seventh.
After walks by relievers Bryan Shaw and Rich Hill, Willingham came up with two outs and drove a pitch from Allen over right fielder Drew Stubbs’ head to give the Twins their three-run lead.
But it was the Indians’ inability to capitalize on those three walks the previous inning that cost them.
Deduno walked Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to open the inning, and manager Terry Francona had All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis try to bunt. But after failing twice to get the ball down and advance the runners, Kipnis struck out looking, dropping him into an 0-for-18 hole. Bourn was then thrown out trying to steal third by catcher Chris Herrmann on a 2-0 pitch.
Then, following Deduno’s third walk, Michael Brantley tapped out weakly to end the threat.
It was a typically uneven outing for Jimenez, who had some bright moments and a few where he appeared on the ropes. He gave up two runs and five hits.
Jimenez struck out the side in the first two innings, but trailed 2-1 as the Twins got RBI doubles from Pedro Florimon and Herrmann in the second.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the first, aided by Deduno’s wild pitch.
Bourn singled leading off and, with two outs, he went to second when Deduno bounced a pitch past catcher Herrmann, who is filling in for Mauer. Carlos Santana followed with an RBI single.
Jimenez was in trouble right away.
The Twins loaded the bases in the first on two walks and a double, but the right-hander, whose inconsistency has been maddening for the Indians, kept them off the scoreboard by striking out Willingham, Ryan Doumit and Trevor Plouffe, who has pounded Cleveland pitching this season.
NOTES: Mauer visited a concussion specialist at the Mayo Clinic and was cleared to begin a light exercise program. ... The Twins have struck out 1,086 times and are on pace to break the club record of 1,384. ... The Indians will flip-flop starters Zach McAllister and Scott Kazmir, who will now pitch Sunday instead of Saturday. The club wants to give Kazmir an extra day to keep him fresh. He recently complained of having a tired arm. ... The Twins will recall RHP Liam Hendricks from Triple-A Rochester to start Saturday. The Australian got his first major league win in Cleveland, snapping a string of 17 starts without a victory, the third longest streak to begin a career in history. ... Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said an MRI on OF Oswaldo Arcia’s sore left wrist was negative. Arcia, who hasn’t played since Monday, took swings in the batting cage Thursday.