Corey Kluber strikes out 14. Indians stay close in Wild Card race with 7-2 win over Minnesota



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MINNEAPOLIS — Corey Kluber continues to dominate hitters when the Cleveland Indians need him most.

Kluber struck out a career-high 14 hitters for the second straight start and the Indians didn't lose any ground in the playoff chase Sunday with a 7-2 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Michael Bourn and Michael Brantley each had three hits for the Indians, who have won five of six.

Cleveland is 3 1-2 games behind the second Wild Card spot, and is home to the Royals for three-plus games beginning Monday. In addition to Monday's regularly scheduled game, the teams must complete the Aug. 31 game in Kansas City that was suspended in the middle of the 10th inning due to rain with Cleveland up 4-2.

"We know what's at stake," Bourn said.

Chris Herrmann and Danny Santana drove in the Minnesota runs.

The chance to score was rare against Kluber (17-9), who allowed seven hits in eight innings to win his fourth straight start.

"He's got electric stuff," said Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. "He's a big swing-and-miss type guy, pretty much all cutters and sliders the whole time. When he's got that working, it's pretty good."

Kluber, who set his career high by striking out 14 Astros in seven innings Tuesday, struck out at least two batters in each of the first six innings Sunday — and 13 straight innings overall. The major league leader with 258 strikeouts, Kluber now has 10 outings of at least 10 strikeouts this season, the most for Cleveland since Sam McDowell in 1970.

"Being a horse out there, throwing eight strong, throwing 120 pitches, that's the type of stuff you look for from the ace of your staff," Bourn said.

The back-to-back 14-strikeout performances by Kluber are the first in baseball since Randy Johnson did it for Arizona on Aug. 15 and 20, 2004.

"When the year's over that's the kind of stuff that you'll take a second to look at and appreciate, but the important thing right now is that we got the win," Kluber said.

Manager Terry Francona was most impressed that Kluber understood the need to go deep into the game to ensure relievers like Scott Atchison and Bryan Shaw and closer Cody Allen had another day of rest.

"That helps us; that gives us a better chance," Francona said.

A trio of Twins miscues helped give the Indians a 5-1 lead in the fifth.

With runners on first and second, Brantley hit a potential inning-ending double play ball to Dozier. His throw to shortstop Danny Santana at second was off the mark for an error and Santana's relay to first ended up the Twins dugout for another error, allowing Bourn to score. Jose Ramirez scored on a balk by Anthony Swarzak (3-2) before Brantley scored on a sacrifice fly.

Making his second straight start in place of the injured Tommy Milone, Swarzak allowed five runs — three earned — 4 1-3 innings.

Down 1-0 in the third, Ramirez singled home a run and Brantley doubled in another for a 2-1 Cleveland lead.

RECORD NUMBER OF K'S

Cleveland pitchers have struck out 1,391 hitters this year, breaking the mark of 1,379 set last season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis was the team's designated hitter Sunday — batting a season-low seventh in the order — after missing two games with a sore right hamstring.

Twins: Team trainers said SS Eduardo Escobar, out since jamming his right shoulder last Tuesday, was available to pinch run, but manager Ron Gardenhire was leery of having Escobar sliding. Escobar slides head first. ... CF Aaron Hicks missed his second straight game with a stiff back and upset Gardenhire by not reporting to the ballpark until about two hours before game time.

UP NEXT

Indians: After the teams finish their Aug. 31 suspended game, Carlos Carrasco (8-5, 2.65) is to start Monday's full game at home against Kansas City's Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.42).

Twins: Ricky Nolasco (5-11, 5.34) gets the ball Monday when the Twins open a three-game home series with Arizona. He's scheduled to face Josh Collmenter (10-8, 3.60).

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