Twins provide run support with 12 hits to pound Indians

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins' chances of winning the AL Central get slimmer each day. But on Friday night, Scott Baker and Jason Kubel provided a little bit of hope.

Baker pitched a two-hitter, Kubel homered and had five RBIs and the Minnesota Twins beat the Cleveland Indians 11-0.

Could this be the spark the Twins need to finally make a move in the division?

"I sure hope so," Kubel said. "I think we're all still thinking positive. We all know we're still in this. Until we're done, it's not going to feel like we're out of it."

Baker, who faced three batters above the minimum, received plenty of support from Kubel and Joe Mauer as the Twins pounded out 12 hits and chased Justin Masterson (3-4) after just 3 1/3 innings. Kubel and Mauer each had three hits.

"Great pitching performance. Baker had all his pitches working for him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You could see it real early in the ballgame. Just a great performance by him."

The Twins were unable to gain ground on the Tigers, however, as Detroit beat the Kansas City Royals and remain five games in front of Minnesota.

The Twins did most of their damage in the fourth inning, taking advantage of an error and two walks to score six runs.

Joe Crede reached on an error to start the inning and scored on Alexi Casilla's blooper down the right-field line. Mauer, Kubel and Michael Cuddyer drove in the other runs.

Mauer extended his hitting streak to 11 games and raised his league-leading batting average to .375.

Kubel hit a two-run homer in the sixth and drove in five runs for the third time this season.

Masterson, making his second start since being acquired from Boston in the Victor Martinez deal, allowed seven runs and walked five. The right-hander with the side-winding delivery displayed plenty of movement on his pitches, but lacked command.

"I definitely did not help myself at all by getting a lot of bad counts, 2-0 counts, and things like that, putting guys on base with walks and they didn't need to be on base," he said. "I felt strong. It isn't like anything physically felt wrong, I just couldn't put the ball where it was supposed to be and that's unfortunate."

Baker (10-7) allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Tigers on Aug. 9 in his last start, squandering an early three-run lead and an opportunity to close the gap on the division leaders.

But on Friday he struck out five and needed just 94 pitches in the gem.

Baker said his poor outing against Detroit provided no extra motivation against Cleveland.

"That was the farthest thing from my mind," he said. "To carry my last start into this start would be detrimental. I've learned that over the years through experience."

Cleveland has lost three straight, scoring just one run in the three games. A bad night got worse for the Tribe when manager Eric Wedge was ejected after an animated argument with home-plate umpire Bob Davidson in the sixth inning.

Davidson originally ruled that Justin Morneau foul-tipped strike three into the glove of catcher Kelly Shoppach.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire argued that the ball hit the dirt first and showed Davidson the ball as evidence. Davidson agreed with Gardenhire, bringing an angry Wedge out to argue.

Wedge and Davidson yelled at each other nose-to-nose at home plate for about 30 seconds after the manger was tossed.

"It was such a bad call, I'm not even gonna comment on it because I'm afraid if I do comment on it I'm gonna say something I regret and I'm just not gonna go there," Wedge said.

Asdrubl Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta had the only two hits for Cleveland.

Baker pitched his first shutout since flirting with a perfect game and tossing a one-hitter on Aug. 31, 2007, against Kansas City. The right-hander induced several lazy flyball outs and is 8-1 since June 1.

Game notes
Delmon Young made all three Twins' outs in the fourth, striking out for the first out and grounding into a double play for the final two. ... Expect the Indians to begin determining which minor leaguers to promote to the majors sometime next week. Wedge said there are a number of players the club would like to observe at the major league level, but there is no rush to get them here. ... Twins SS Orlando Cabrera had his league-leading 22-game hitting streak snapped.