MINNEAPOLIS -- In a matchup with American League Wild Card implications, right-hander Cody Anderson tossed 6 2/3 strong innings and Carlos Santana hit a three-run homer to help the Indians defeat the Twins, 6-3, on Thursday night at Target Field.
The Twins (78-74) saw their three-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 1 1/2 games back of the Astros for the second AL Wild Card spot with 10 games to play. The Indians (75-76) are four back of Houston with 10 games left.
"You're trying to win every game no matter the circumstance. I know we've got a chance, and that's something to play for," Indians right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall said.
Anderson was solid, allowing one run on 10 hits with four strikeouts to pick up his fourth straight win. He was backed up a three-run first and a three-run blast from Santana in the third. The lone run he gave up came on a homer from Torii Hunter in the seventh. Anderson left with two runners on in the seventh, but reliever Bryan Shaw was able to get out of the jam.
Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson struggled, lasting a season-low 2 2/3 innings, surrendering six runs on seven hits and two walks in his first loss since Sept. 8. Minnesota's bullpen tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings to help pick up Gibson.
"Every time out is going to be a big start and I think that's what made tonight so frustrating," Gibson said. "We could've had a sweep with a big win, but after three innings, I made it really tough on the offense."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Kipnis gets Indians going:Jason Kipnis gave the Indians the best start they could ask for, homering on the third pitch he saw and giving them a lead they never relinquished. His ninth home run represented the first lead for Cleveland in the three-game series.
"When Kip got his leadoff home run, it felt good just to be able to be on the scoreboard first and then we kind of stayed after it a bit, which was good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. More >
Hicks nailed at home: After the Indians scored three in the top of the first, the Twins tried to spark their own rally, as Aaron Hicks doubled and Brian Dozier singled to open the inning. Joe Mauer lifted a fly ball to center fielder Abraham Almonte, who was able to throw out Hicks at home for a double play. Miguel Sano followed with a groundout to short to end the inning.
"I thought it was big," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We were trying to get back into the game after giving up three. You try to be aggressive early in the game, but the guy made a play."
Santana seals it: The Indians jumped on Gibson in the third with four straight hits to begin the inning. The third hit, a Santana three-run home run, helped provide more than enough run support for Anderson. And though they didn't score again in the inning, the Tribe managed to build an insurmountable lead and knock Gibson out of the game.
"Anytime you can score first and then score next, it's a good formula," Francona said. "It's a lot harder [to do] than it is to say it, but it works."
Hunter, Rosario homer but not enough: The Twins didn't score until the seventh on Hunter's 22nd homer. They had a chance to get back into the game with two runners on and two outs, but Dozier lined out sharply to center off Shaw to end the inning. Eddie Rosario made it a three-run game in the eighth with a two-run shot to right, his 12th homer.
"Later in the game, we started to square some up," Molitor said. "But it was just too little, too late."
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With his walk in the eighth, Mauer set a Twins record by reaching base safely in 43 straight games, passing Bob Allison's mark of 42 set in 1961. It's also the third-longest such streak in the Major Leagues this year behind St. Louis' Matt Holliday (45) and Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion (44).
"When you're mentioned with Bob Allison, it's humbling," Mauer said. "Right now, I can't really grasp it right because it's during the season and we had a tough loss tonight. But to be mentioned with Bob Allison, that's pretty special."
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: The Indians will continue their road trip with a three-game set in Kansas City beginning Friday at 8:10 p.m. ET. Carlos Carrasco, who is 13-11 with a 3.62 ER, starts the opener. Carrasco is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against the Royals this season.
Twins: The Twins head to Detroit for a three-game series that starts on Friday at 6:08 p.m. CT. Right-hander Mike Pelfrey gets the nod after giving up four runs in six innings last time out against the Angels on Saturday. He has a 5.67 ERA over his past eight outings.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.