Twins Topple Tribe In Ninth, 4-2

Jeremy Sowers pitched perfect ball for five innings. It wasn't enough as the Minnesota Twins scored twice in the ninth inning off reliever Rafael Perez for a 4-2 win Sunday. The Twins took the lead against Sowers with a bloop, bunt and two bouncers. The Tribe failed to mount much offense off rookie Nick Blackburn, but did tie it off reliever Dennys Reyes in the eighth. That wasn't enough, either.

"Sowers was outstanding, as good as we've seen him in quite a while," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He had a good life on his fastball and mixed in his breaking ball and changeup.

"Even when they scored a couple runs, nothing happened in that inning."

That came in the Minnesota sixth when Craig Monroe blooped a double to right for the Twins' first hit. Sowers walked Brendan Harris, then Nick Punto reached with a single on what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt.

"That first hit didn't bother me as much as if I had given it up on a broken-bat grounder that goes through," Sowers said. "That hit was the case of a big-league hitter being strong enough to muscle a ball out there where nobody can get to it. It happens."

The Indians should have gotten one out somewhere on the bunt, though.

Punto bunted the ball between Sowers and third baseman Andy Marte, who went back to the bag when the ball was hit, thinking Sowers would get it and try to make a play at third. But Sowers had no chance on the ball.

"That's Andy's ball there on that bunt," Wedge said. "He thought we could make a play there, which is right, but he didn't have a good angle and see it right."

Denard Span and Alexi Casilla followed with weak grounders that were nothing but fielder's choice putouts -- but also were RBIs for a 2-1 lead.

Cleveland had scored in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Sal Fasano. Shin-Soo Choo singled, went to third on a single by Marte and came home on Fasano's one-out fly ball to right.

That was all Blackburn allowed in seven innings. The rookie has a 1.31 ERA in three starts against the Indians this season.

"Blackburn has been doing a good job all year," Wedge said. "He's got a good arm and throws strikes. He throws a cutter that has enough life it is like a slider. He's shown himself very well all year."

The Indians tied it in the eighth when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a leadoff single and went to third on a single by Grady Sizemore. Matt Guerrier, who grew up in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights and attended Kent State University, came on and pinch-hitter laced a 1-1 pitch towards the gap in left-center. It looked to be a sure extra-base hit until Span raced over and made a lunging catch. Cabrera scored on the sac fly to tie it, 2-2.

"I didn't think there was any way that kid was going to catch that ball," Wedge said. "That was an outstanding play."

Perez then yielded an RBI double to Justin Morneau, who scored on a single by Jason Kubel in the ninth. All-Star closer Joe Nathan got three quick outs for his 28th save.

With two outs and Casilla on second, Wedge had the option of walking the dangerous Morneau.

"Perez is one of the best in the game against lefties and has handled Morneau pretty well," Wedge said. "He just made a bad pitch there. Morneau had only one hit off him."

Morneau, 1-for-8 at that point against Perez, hit a 3-1 pitch to left-center.

Sowers was pleased with his performance, if not the result. He said he didn't get too caught up in his brief flirt with perfection.

"Obviously this was a better outing," Sowers said. "My bullpen wasn't anything spectacular. I was just trying to command both sides of the plate with my fastball out there and take it into the game.

"The at-bat by Morneau (a strikeout) in the first inning was kind of a tell-tale. All six pitches I threw to him were right where I wanted. I gained something from that at-bat."

As for a possible, no-hitter Sowers said five innings isn't enough to get too excited about -- and that any pitcher needs a lot of luck to get one.

"A lot of things have to happen," he said. "If I'm not left-handed and have my glove on the other hand, I don't get that one (a line drive to end the fifth by Kubel) hit right at me.

"If Choo doesn't make a nice play on that ball hit over his head (by Delmon Young in the second inning, that's a hit for extra bases.

"I pitched pretty well and that's what I'll take from this one."


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