By Jordan Bastian and August Fagerstrom
CLEVELAND -- Torii Hunter's ninth-inning solo homer to the right-field seats sent the Twins to a 10-9 comeback victory over the rival Indians on Friday night at Progressive Field. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Minnesota.
"It's something that you hope can propel you somewhat, but at this stage in the season, those things only go so far," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "When you go out there tomorrow, you don't know what's going to happen in the first inning. You hope that you can leapfrog off of it, but it's a matter of coming out and trying to play good ball."
Hunter's shot off Bryan Shaw ended a back-and-forth battle that included an early six-run lead for Minnesota and a furious nine-run rally by Cleveland over the third and fourth innings. For the Twins, Hunter had three RBIs, Trevor Plouffe had two and Brian Dozier belted his 24th homer of the season. For the Tribe, Yan Gomes launched a three-run shot (his seventh homer of the year) and Michael Brantley had three RBIs.
The early outpouring offense came at the expense of Twins starter Mike Pelfrey and Indians rookie Cody Anderson, who each bowed out after abbreviated efforts. Pelfrey was charged with seven runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings, while Anderson was on the hook for six runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings.
"They deserved the win right there," Anderson said of the effort of the Indians' offense. "If I would've done my job, those guys would've earned a win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Pouring it on early: The Twins appeared to have put the Indians away early with a six-run third inning in which they sent 10 batters to the plate and recorded six hits. The damage was done by an RBI single from Eduardo Escobar, a two-run Plouffe double, a Hunter single that scored two more and an RBI triple by Eddie Rosario.
"It was a balanced contribution," Molitor said. "You score 10 runs and have to hang on, it's a tough way to get it done, but that's when everybody gets involved and it's a good thing."
Call it a comeback: Cleveland answered with seven runs off Pelfrey and nine runs total across the third and fourth innings. Brantley delivered an RBI single in the fourth and a two-run double in the fifth. Also in the fourth, Carlos Santana drew a bases-loaded walk and Lonnie Chisenhall chipped in an RBI single, too. Gomes' homer off A.J. Achter capped off the nine-run push, giving the Tribe a 9-7 lead in the fifth.
"It was really good," Indians manager Terry Francona said of the rally. "That had a chance to be a long night, and jumping right back into it like that was really encouraging. It wasn't fun to lose a game, but it was a lot more interesting the way we played it out." More >
Not so fast: The Twins showed fight following the Indians nine-run outburst, pushing across runs in the fifth, sixth and ninth innings to give them the lead. Aaron Hicks' second hit of the night with a fifth-inning double that scored Hunter, and Dozier's 24th home run of the year was a solo shot in the sixth inning that set the stage for Hunter's go-ahead homer in the ninth.
"It's unfortunate that you can get out to a good start like that and then have to battle the way we did," Molitor said. "But somehow, we rallied. Torii got us going after we fell behind and then eventually got the home run to tie it up. That's about as good of a ball as I've seen him hit to right field." More >
"Boy, he's really beat us up. Man, I think he's following me. I've seen him do that for too many years." -- Francona, on Hunter
"I feel like some people have been talking about as soon as [teams] score runs, we go down and we don't fight back. I think the mentality that we have, we've got good hitters, man. At any point, anything can happen, and we showed it today." -- Gomes
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Hunter's three hits gave him 215 career hits against the Indians, marking the most against the Tribe among active players. Hunter's 36 homers vs. Cleveland are tied with Boog Powell for 21st all-time against the Indians, and rank second to only Detroit's Miguel Cabrera (40) among active players.
In the third inning, the game was stopped for a records review by the umpiring crew. During Escobar's at-bat for the Twins, home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn consulted with the crew in New York to confirm the count, which was 2-2 at the time. The review lasted one minute and 58 seconds.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Righty Ervin Santana (2-2, 3.89 ERA) will face the Indians at 7:10 p.m. ET on Saturday for the first time since 2013, when he was a member of the Kansas City Royals. Santana has had an up-and-down season since returning from his suspension, posting two scoreless outings, but allowing 17 earned runs in the other four starts..
Indians: In the second tilt in this three-game set against the Twins, the Indians will hand the ball to right-hander Trevor Bauer (8-8, 3.98 ERA). Bauer has turned in a 1.72 ERA in his past two outings (three earned runs in 15 2/3 innings). Corner infielder Chris Johnson, who was acquired from the Braves on Friday, is expected to officially join the Indians, too.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.