By DAVE CAMPBELL, AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins were surging into the eighth inning after erasing Cleveland’s eight-run lead, chasing what would have been a club-record comeback.
Ah, but Francisco Lindor still had another at-bat, and that’s all the Indians needed to regain control.
Lindor hit two doubles and two home runs , including the tiebreaking drive in the eighth that lifted Cleveland to a 9-8 victory over Minnesota on Thursday.
“You saw what he can do when he feels good,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That was tremendous.”
Lindor drove in four runs, Melky Cabrera had two RBIs and Jose Ramirez homered, too, for the Indians, who stretched their winning streak to a season-best six straight games. They survived another wobbly performance by their bullpen, until Cody Allen finished by getting the final four outs for his ninth save in 10 opportunities.
With Michael Brantley hitting between Lindor and Ramirez, the Indians have quite the potent top of their lineup. Lindor and Ramirez combined for 80 hits in May.
“It’s not lost on us how good those guys are,” Allen said.
Indians starter Shane Bieber, the first player in franchise history to make his major league debut on his birthday, was gifted an 8-0 lead he took into the fifth. Robbie Grossman and Ryan LaMarre had RBI singles for the Twins. Then, Logan Morrison and Eduardo Escobar hit consecutive homers in the sixth to end Bieber’s night.
In the seventh, reliever Dan Otero left two runners on with one out. Eddie Rosario hit an RBI single off Jeff Beliveau. Miguel Sano then smashed a three-run home run into the right-field flower box against Zach McAllister to tie it. Sano emerged from a round of hard hand slaps in the dugout to tip his helmet to the crowd.
“Nobody put their head down,” Sano said. “Everybody fights and competes, pitch by pitch.”
Tyler Olson (1-1) came in for the last two outs. Then in the next inning, Lindor straightened the Indians out with his one-out drive off Addison Reed (1-4). The star shortstop became the first player in the major leagues since Adrian Beltre for Seattle in 2007 to hit two doubles and two homers in two different games in one season.
“A little cement-mixer slider right down the middle to a pretty good hitter,” Reed said. “So that combination is never good, and he did what he’s supposed to do.”
Twins starter Jake Odorizzi looked more like the rookie, with a three-run first and a five-run fourth on his ledger before being removed. Odorizzi helped end Brantley’s 19-game hitting streak, the longest in the major leagues this year, but he allowed more than his share of hard contact that Lindor started with a leadoff double.
“I tried doing something different the third at-bat than I did the first two,” Odorizzi said, “and it ended up being worse than the first two.”
The Twins lost for the seventh time in their last eight games. They’re 14-25 since leaving Puerto Rico on April 18 with a 16-inning win over the Indians.
Despite their MLB-worst relief ERA, the Indians have finally come alive. Lindor and Ramirez, who hit .336 with 11 homers and 25 RBIs in May, have led the way.
“They’re a pretty amazing combination, and they seem like they just keep getting better,” Francona said. “We’re going to need it.”
BIEBER GOES BACK
Bieber, who turned 23 for his spot start and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings, will be sent back to Triple-A Columbus where he threw seven no-hit innings on Friday.
The Indians have four outfielders on the disabled list, but they’re about to be nearly at full strength. Bradley Zimmer will be activated before the game Friday, Francona said, to take Bieber’s roster spot. Zimmer has missed the last 19 games with a bruised left rib.
On Tuesday, before the start of a two-game series against Milwaukee, Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer are due back. Chisenhall played in only seven games before suffering a right calf strain. Guyer strained the left side of his neck on May 19. Tyler Naquin remains out with a strained left hamstring.
Indians: LHP Andrew Miller’s hope is to resume throwing off a mound as soon as this weekend, as the two-time All-Star reliever continues to try to overcome the bedeviling inflammation in the right knee that he pushes off during his delivery. “He’s really upbeat about how good his arm feels,” Francona said.
Twins: About one-third of the way through a season already headlined by the integral players who’ve been unavailable, the Twins have been dealt another round of injury setbacks this week. 1B Joe Mauer had to back off his workout before the game with the persistence of concussion symptoms. “No excuses,” manager Paul Molitor said. “There’s no sympathy being thrown our way. You’ve got to go out and try to find a way to play better.”
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (6-3, 3.98 ERA) pitches on Friday night, taking his 12th turn of the season. He threw seven scoreless innings with just three hits and one walk allowed against the Twins on April 18 in a 2-1 loss in a 16-inning game in Puerto Rico.
Twins: RHP Jose Berrios (5-5, 3.67 ERA) takes the mound in the second game of the series, having pitched into the eighth inning in each of his last three appearances with a total of only five runs surrendered. Berrios opposed Carrasco on April 18 and matched his seven scoreless innings.
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