CLEVELAND -- Leave it to the least-expected source of power to help the Twins end their eight-game losing streak.
Minnesota catcher Juan Centeno delivered a two-run home run off Indians ace Corey Kluber on Saturday afternoon, providing the spark that pushed the Twins to a 6-3 victory at Progressive Field. Righty Ervin Santana turned in a solid effort that guided the Twins to the win column for the first time since May 2.
"It's just good to win," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It seems like it's been a long time. We got a lot of good efforts from people today. I feel a little relieved. It's one of those things where we're trying to continue to find ways to reinstill some confidence here."
Centeno, who had four career home runs in 1,665 Minor League plate appearances, and none in the Majors prior to Saturday, came through against Kluber in the fifth inning to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish. Eddie Rosario knocked in another run with a groundout in the sixth and Eduardo Nunez added a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the seventh to pad the Twins' lead.
Centeno also doubled and scored within the Twins' two-run ninth, ending the day 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and one walk.
It was a sufficient showing to support Santana (1-2), who yielded only one run on five hits in six innings of work for Minnesota. On the other side, Kluber (2-5) picked up the loss after being charged with four runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, in which he struck out seven and walked three.
"The ball to Centeno, it was a decent pitch," Indians catcher Yan Gomes said. "Maybe a little bit up, and he made him pay for it. But, other than that, [Kluber] tried to keep us in the ballgame, deep just like we wanted. He was going really good in the beginning."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Centeno gets first career homer: Centeno, playing in his fourth game with the Twins and the 28th game in his career, connected on his first Major League homer in the fifth to give the Twins a 2-1 lead. The two-run blast came on an 0-1 fastball from Kluber and left the bat at 95 mph, traveling a projected 352 feet from home plate, per Statcast™.
"It was awesome," Centeno said. "A go-ahead homer, I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and got it. I was looking to do some damage, so it felt great."
Lone breakthrough: Santana -- who tossed a no-hitter against the Indians on July 27, 2011, when he was with the Angels -- gave Cleveland few chances on Saturday. The Tribe's only outburst against the righty came in the fourth inning, when Mike Napoli delivered a two-out double and then scored on a base hit to left by Jose Ramirez.
Santana the stopper: The Twins were desperate for a win after losing eight games in a row, and Santana outpitched Kluber to give the Twins just their third road victory of the year. Santana could've been more efficient, as he needed 102 pitches to get through six innings, but he was otherwise solid. Only one baserunner reached second against Santana.
"It was a tough game," Santana said. "They're very aggressive. They don't chase a lot of bad pitches. So they made me work a lot today." More >
Late push: Cleveland did what it could to pull off a comeback against Twins reliever Ryan Pressly in the eighth. Rookie Tyler Naquin led off with a walk (only his second free pass in 58 plate appearances this year) and Jason Kipnis followed suit with a two-out walk. Francisco Lindor then came through with an RBI single, but Pressly struck out Napoli to escape further harm. After Minnesota added two insurance runs in the top of the ninth, Gomes hit a two-out solo homer (his second shot in as many days) that was too little, too late.
"I think the last swing does a lot for, hopefully, his confidence," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Gomes, who was in a 2-for-42 slump before this series. "Any time he takes a good swing and gets rewarded for it, yeah, it's good."
"It's gotta be a thrill, and to have Kluber as your first, that's something to brag about for a long time. -- Molitor, on Centeno's first career homer
"It was kind of like the rain picked up a little bit, and it was blowing straight into the hitter, me and the umpire. So, actually, for that split-second, I was actually kind of glad, because it was actually kind of hard to see. I'm sure for Kluber, I'm sure he wasn't very happy about that." -- Gomes, on the umpires stopping play momentarily during the sixth inning
The Twins won a challenge in the first, when Kipnis was initially ruled safe on a close play at first by first-base umpire Sean Barber. Following a review, the call was overturned, and Kipnis was out at first as part of a 3-6-1 double play.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Tyler Duffey (0-2, 2.60 ERA) will be looking for his first win when he starts against the Indians on Sunday at 12:10 p.m. CT. Duffey is coming off a quality start, as he went seven innings against the White Sox on Sunday, giving up three runs while recording a season-high nine strikeouts.
Indians: Right-hander Trevor Bauer (3-0, 3.86 ERA) is slated to start for the Tribe at 1:10 p.m. ET in Sunday's finale of this three-game set with the Twins. In three outings since moving back to the rotation, Bauer has held batters to a .180 average with 15 strikeouts and seven walks in 16 2/3 innings. The righty spun seven shutout innings in a win over Houston on Tuesday.