One bad pitch costly for Duensing in strong outing
CLEVELAND — Brian Duensing is tired of moral victories.
Duensing struck out a career-high nine, but also threw a hanging changeup that Asdrubal Cabrera for a three-run homer in the third inning of the Minnesota Twins' 3-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night.
"I left a changeup up to Cabrera and, unfortunately, that was the game-changer," Duensing said. "I think that has kind of been going on all year. You do a lot of good things well, and the one mistake you make hurts you."
Josh Tomlin (12-5) was nearly flawless, taking a shutout into the seventh for Cleveland. Chris Perez pitched a perfect ninth for his 25th save in 28 chances as the Indians earned their fourth win in five games to remain three back of AL Central-leading Detroit.
Twins designated hitter Jim Thome went 0 for 3 with a walk and remained two shy of 600 career homers. He was called out on strikes to end the game.
The 40-year-old Thome hit his first 334 homers with the Indians from 1991 through 2002 and is in his second year with Minnesota.
"Duensing had one bad pitch that cost him three runs," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He had a really good night for us and got us deep into the game. We hit some balls hard, but to no avail and lose a good pitcher's match out there."
Cabrera connected in the third, driving a 1-0 pitch from Duensing (8-11) over the wall in left for his 20th homer. Shin-Soo Choo hit a leadoff single and Jason Donald walked before Cabrera went deep.
"You have to tip your hat to him," Duensing said. "It wasn't where I wanted, but I don't think it was that bad of a pitch. But he hit it over the fence. It was one of those things and you can't do too much about it. Yeah, I'd like it back but there's nothing you can do about it."
Tomlin moved to 1-1 in five starts since losing 7-5 at Minnesota on July 20. The right-hander was charged with one run and four hits in 6 1-3 innings, leaving with Twins on first and second after issuing his only walk, to Thome.
Joe Smith came in and got Danny Valencia on a short fly to right-center before Delmon Young blooped an RBI single to right, scoring Justin Morneau from second to make it 3-1. Rafael Perez then struck out Tsuyoshi Nishioka to strand two runners.
Tony Sipp worked a perfect eighth to get the ball to Perez.
Indians manager Manny Acta was impressed with both starters.
"(Duensing) did a really good job of making pitches when we had guys on base," Acta said. "He's got a good repertoire and always pitches well against us. He did a good job again. It was another well-pitched game by both sides."
By taking the first two of three games against Minnesota after winning two of three from the Tigers, Cleveland has won consecutive series for the first time since winning three in a row over Arizona, Cincinnati and the New York Yankees from June 27 to July 6.
With a little luck, Tomlin could have taken a perfect game into the sixth. The Twins' first two hits were sharply struck, but within range of being caught. Nishioka singled with two outs in the third when his line drive ticked off the glove of a leaping Donald at second base. Joe Mauer got a one-out single in the fourth when his hard shot went past Cabrera's glove at shortstop on a wicked short hop.
Minnesota outfielder Denard Span singled to center in the sixth to snap an 0-for-27 slide. Morneau got a leadoff double in the seventh when his sharp grounder just inside the bag went off first baseman Matt LaPorta's glove.
Duensing allowed nine hits and walked two in 6 2-3 innings. He is 1-4 in five starts since July 22, but Gardenhire isn't complaining.
"He did his job," Gardenhire said. "He went out and gave us the chance to win a ballgame. On a night when you give up three runs and the other guy isn't giving up anything you are going to be on the backside of it."
NOTES: Minnesota is 6-5 this year against the Indians. ... Twins 2B Alexi Casilla went back on the disabled list after aggravating his right hamstring running to first base Friday, when he was activated. Minnesota will recall INF Trevor Plouffe from Triple-A Rochester on Sunday to take his place. ... Twins OF Michael Cuddyer remains day to day after straining his neck in early batting practice Friday. ... Twins RHP Kevin Slowey will make his first start of 2011 on Sunday. Cleveland is expected to recall LHP David Huff from Triple-A Columbus to oppose him. Slowey, 13-6 a year ago as a starter, worked in relief for Minnesota six times this season before being sidelined with an abdominal strain May 20. He was activated July 21 and sent to Rochester, where he was 1-2 with a 3.55 ERA in seven starts. ... Nishioka is hitting .323 (10 for 31) during a nine-game hitting streak.