Bullpen hurts Twins in 12-inning loss to Indians
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- In what's become another disappointing season for the Minnesota Twins, their bullpen has been one of the team's strengths.
But even relievers can have a bad day.
Michael Brantley hit a sacrifice fly in the 12th inning and the Cleveland Indians came back to beat the Twins 9-8.
Joe Mauer tied a career high with five hits for Minnesota.
"We scored enough runs. Unfortunately for the first time in a long, long time we just couldn't hold the lead," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis singled off Ryan Pressly (3-3) to open the 12th. Swisher moved to third on a fly out and scored easily on Brantley's fly out to center field.
Chris Perez (5-2) blew a save but got the win. Joe Smith earned his second save, including a strikeout of Mauer to end the game.
"I was hoping he was tired," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "That's a pretty good day, especially when you take into consideration he was catching. That's pretty impressive."
Carlos Santana homered off all-star closer Glen Perkins in the 10th to give Cleveland an 8-7 lead. Mauer responded in the bottom half with a shot off Perez.
Cleveland trailed 7-3 entering the eighth inning, but rallied with four runs -- three earned -- against Casey Fien.
Kipnis opened the inning with a single to shallow right field and Santana reached on an error by Justin Morneau. Brantley then had an RBI single through the hole at second base
"I was getting groundballs, but unfortunately they found holes. I mean, that's baseball," Fien said.
Jason Giambi followed with a three-run homer that tied it.
"I'm a strike thrower. I'm going to pitch to contact, and today they got me," Fien said. "I left the ball up in the zone to Giambi, and he hurt me."
Entering the game Minnesota's bullpen was third in the league with a 3.00 relief ERA, behind only Kansas City (2.71) and Oakland (2.93).
"We haven't seen our bullpen have trouble, not very often," Gardenhire said.
Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson allowed six hits and three earned runs in 5 1-3 innings, the fourth straight start he's failed to go at least six innings. Twins' starters have a 5.06 ERA, second-worst in the American League.
Josh Roenicke, Caleb Thielbar and Jared Burton pitched 1 2-3 innings of scoreless relief before Fien struggled for the second straight outing. He gave up two home runs in an inning Sunday in Chicago, but had allowed just two earned runs in his previous 28 1-3 innings dating back to May 28.
"I think this is just one of those ruts in the road for me, and I can get past it," he said.
Gardenhire hasn't lost confidence in the right-hander.
"Casey's been lights out, one of the better setup guys in our league, since we put him in that role," he said.
Mauer, who singled and moved to third on a double by Morneau, scored on a first-inning sacrifice fly by Josh Willingham. Morneau then scored on a double by Oswaldo Arcia. Brain Dozier and Mauer had RBI singles in the second to give Minnesota a 4-0 lead.
The Twins went 6 for 13 with runners in scoring position after going 3 for 48 over their last six games. Minnesota entered the game last in the American League, hitting .230 in such situations.
Mauer hit a two-run single in the sixth and Chris Colabello an RBI single in the seventh to make it 7-3.
NOTES: Mauer has five five-hit games in his career. The previous one was July 26, 2010, at Kansas City. ... Twins GM Terry Ryan said that C-DH-OF Ryan Doumit is expected to be activated from the seven-day concussion DL "in the next couple days." ... Twins SS Pedro Florimon singled in the second to end his 19 at-bat hitless streak. ... Minnesota is scheduled to send Mike Pelfrey (4-10, 5.32) to the mound Thursday in the opener of a four-game home series against the White Sox. Chicago is scheduled to counter with Andre Rienzo (0-0, 2.95).