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Minnesota's Jason Kubel hits the second of two three-run home runs off Cleveland's Fausto Carmona Thursday. AP Photo/Jim Mone

Kubel powers afternoon rout

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Jason Kubel didn't want to make another trip to the disabled list with knee pain.

If he continues to hit the way he did Thursday, he won't have to worry about any down time.

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Kubel hit a pair of three-run homers to back Scott Baker, who pitched seven effective innings for the Minnesota Twins in an 11-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Kubel injured his left knee chasing a fly ball at Chicago on May 21 and missed the next three games. Since he returned, he was 4 for 26 until hitting a single in the fourth inning Wednesday night.

On Thursday, Kubel's first homer capped a four-run first against Fausto Carmona. The cleanup batter followed an inning later with his second to give Minnesota a 7-0 lead.

"The swing's come back and that's all I can ask for," Kubel said.

It was his fourth career two-homer game and second of the season.

Baker (3-6) has felt different his past few starts.

The right-hander took advantage of the early run support, staying around the strike zone and retiring his first eight batters. He didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning while winning for the second time in three starts.

Baker struck out a career-high 10 and walked just one. He allowed three runs -- two earned -- and six hits.

"I threw down about as well as I have all season," Baker said. "I left a couple pitches up, but we're human beings. That's just part of it. It's definitely a game of adjustments and as long as you continue to make those adjustments you should be fine."

Meanwhile, Carmona (2-6) failed to reach the third inning for the second time in three starts. He's allowed four or more runs in his last five starts, and has walked 24 batters in his last six.

"The way it's been working in the bullpen has been great, and I'm looking forward to the next game," Carmona said through a translator.

The bullpen sessions have offered a glimmer of hope for the right-hander who finished fourth in AL Cy Young Award voting in 2007 after a 19-8 season.

"We're going to continue to talk about it, continue to work and just go from there," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "He was on the plate more in his previous start and they knocked him around pretty good. But today, he comes out and he's working off the plate. We know what he needs to do. He knows what he needs to do, but he's just having a hard time doing it."

Carmona walked the first two batters he faced before Morneau singled to left, scoring Denard Span. Kubel followed with a drive to straightaway center that just missed the glove of a leaping Trevor Crowe.

Notes: Minnesota RF Michael Cuddyer is making progress with his injured right index finger. Cuddyer did some hitting and throwing before the game and hopes to take early batting practice Friday in Seattle. He has been out since Sunday. ... Cleveland 1B Chris Giminez got his first major league hit, a seventh-inning home run. ... Twins C Joe Mauer is following up on his torrid May. Mauer had three hits Thursday and has hit in five straight games. He is 11 for 19 during that span, and is batting .492 at home this season.

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Pioneer staff reports
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