Plouffe, Mauer homer, drive in three in victory

Plouffe, Mauer homer, drive in three in victory

Plouffe, Mauer homer, drive in three in victory
CLEVELAND -- The power numbers have been there for Trevor Plouffe this season, but he knows he has plenty more to work on.

Plouffe made some positive steps against the Indians on Saturday, as he laced a two-run single in the first inning and hit the go-ahead homer in the sixth to help the Twins to a 7-4 win over the Indians at Progressive Field.

Plouffe is now third on the club with six homers, including five in his last 11 games, but is still hitting .176 in 102 at-bats. It's something he's trying to improve, and Plouffe was more pleased with his clutch two-run single with two outs and the bases loaded in the first than he was with his solo shot in the sixth off right-hander Josh Tomlin.

"I've been working hard," Plouffe said. "A big part of that is staying up the middle and going the other way. It keeps you out of slumps. When you start thinking about home runs it's what gets you into slumps and hitting .170. I'm working on that."

But Plouffe wasn't the only one to have a big day against Cleveland, as Joe Mauer also homered and drove in three runs to help pace the offense.

Mauer's homer off reliever Tony Sipp -- his third of the season -- gave the Twins two insurance runs in the seventh.

"I thought the pitch before might have been a ball, so I just tried to stay short," Mauer said. "That ball gets on you pretty good. I didn't try to do too much with it, and it ended up going over the fence, so that was good."

It was Mauer who opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first inning after Denard Span and Ben Revere both singled. Justin Morneau added an RBI single of his own before Plouffe laced a two-run single with the bases loaded to give the Twins an early 4-0 lead against Tomlin.

"Everything I threw up there, they were taking it or putting a good swing on it," said Tomlin, who gave up five runs on 10 hits over six innings. "I don't know how to explain it other than that. I tried to make good pitches."

But the Twins couldn't hold the lead, as right-hander P.J. Walters saw his streak of four consecutive quality starts come to an end. Walters struggled over 4 1/3 innings against the Indians, who tied it up at 4-4 in the fifth. Walters surrendered four runs on eight hits and had trouble with his control, as he walked three.

"I felt like I was just missing a little bit," Walters said. "We scored four runs in the first and then I come out and walked two guys. That can't happen. But the offense came out and scored runs and our bullpen pitched great."

Michael Brantley got the Indians on the board with an RBI groundout in the first before Asdrubal Cabrera added an RBI single in the third. Lou Marson later brought home a run with an RBI groundout in the fourth before Brantley extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI single in the fifth.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire opted to stick with Walters in that situation, instead of going with left-hander Brian Duensing, because he felt Walters deserved the opportunity to get out of the jam after having been solid in five starts this season.

"He earns that by the way he's pitched up here," Gardenhire said. "It didn't work out for him, but I thought he earned that, so we left him to face Brantley."

Duensing came in after Brantley's hit, and was able to get out of the inning unscathed. Duensing ended up tossing two scoreless innings before Jared Burton, Glen Perkins and Matt Capps combined to preserve the victory.

The win -- the Twins' fourth in their last five games -- was their first against the Indians in four tries this season. Capps also improved to 11-for-12 in save opportunities this year.

"The bullpen was super; they all did their job," Gardenhire said. "Duensing was fantastic; that was a very tough part of the lineup when he came into the ballgame."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.