CLEVELAND — A long day at the ballpark was well worth it for the Cleveland Indians.
"Doubleheaders are hard to win," manager Terry Francona said after Cleveland swept Minnesota on Thursday. "It worked out pretty well for us. That's exactly what we hoped for."
Another strong performance by Corey Kluber and a two-run homer by Carlos Santana sparked an 8-2 victory in the first game.
Santana homered again and drove in both runs while rookie T.J. House and the bullpen combined on a four-hitter in a 2-0 win in game two.
Cleveland moved closer in the races for both the AL Central title and the wild card. The Indians trail Detroit by 3 1-2 games for the second wild-card spot, and visit the Tigers for a three-game series starting Friday night.
"Right now we've got to try to win every night," Kluber said. "We can't worry about the other teams because that takes away from our focus. Until we're eliminated we've got a chance."
Cleveland's pitchers ruled the day, holding the Twins to 12 hits, striking out 17 and allowing one walk, which came in the ninth inning of game two. As has been the case all season, Kluber (15-9) set the tone. The right-hander allowed two runs and struck out seven in 8 1-3 innings in becoming the Indians' first 15-game winner since Cliff Lee went 22-3 in 2008.
For one of the few times this season, the offense gave Kluber some cushion. Yan Gomes homered and drove in three runs, Michael Brantley had two RBIs and Cleveland put the game away with a four-run third inning.
"Corey was outstanding," Francona said. "Once he got the lead he pounded the zone. It seems like he's always in a one-run game. With all the innings he's pitched, it seems like every inning he pitches there is no margin of error."
Kyle Gibson (11-11) lasted only three innings, allowing seven runs and seven hits, including two homers
House (3-3) pitched seven sharp innings in game two. The left-hander held Minnesota to four hits, struck out eight and didn't walk a batter.
Bryan Shaw pitched the eighth and Cody Allen worked the ninth for his 20th save. Allen walked pinch-hitter Joe Mauer, the Twins' only free pass of the day, but Trevor Plouffe flied out and Kennys Vargas bounced into a double play.
Santana has 27 home runs, matching his career high. His leadoff homer on a 1-2 pitch in the fourth was the only mistake Ricky Nolasco (5-11) made in seven innings.
Santana added an RBI single in the eighth.
Kluber didn't walk a batter for the second straight outing. He broke his three-game losing streak with a five-hitter in a complete game win over the White Sox on Saturday.
Vargas' two-out RBI single put Minnesota ahead in the first. Kluber retired the next 10 hitters, a stretch that was broken when Oswaldo Arcia led off the fifth with a single.
Kluber regained control by getting Kurt Suzuki to bounce into a double play that began a stretch when he retired eight in a row.
After winning game one of the series Tuesday, the doubleheader was a lost day for the Twins.
"We couldn't get anything going," manager Ron Gardenhire.
CALL HIM ACE
LET IT POUR
Wednesday's rainout was the fifth for the Indians this season, including four at Progressive Field. Cleveland has played three home doubleheaders with Thursday's ending an 11-game homestand, the longest of the season. The Indians played a makeup game of a June 18 rainout against the Angels on Monday.
Twins: Danny Santana, who missed two games with a strained back, started the first game in center field. The rookie strained his back making a throw from the outfield Saturday.
Indians: INF/OF Mike Aviles (concussion) passed the protocol tests and appeared in both games. He entered the opener in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and started the second game at third base. Aviles was injured attempting to make a diving catch in right field on Sept. 1.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (7-4), who came within one out of his first career complete game in his last start, will pitch the opener in Detroit on Friday night.