MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Shane Bieber pitched into the eighth inning, José Ramírez had three hits and the Cleveland Indians pulled into a tie in the American League Central with a 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
Cleveland trailed Minnesota by 11½ games on June 3 before putting together a 41-16 run, the best record in the majors since June 4. The Twins are 30-27 in those games and their division lead finally slipped away with their first four-game losing streak of the season.
The All-Star MVP Bieber (12-4) allowed a pair of home runs but struck out 12 batters in seven innings. The right-hander owns a 1.69 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 36 innings over his last four starts, pitching at least seven innings in each outing.
Devin Smeltzer (1-2) surrendered six runs in 4 1/3 innings for the Twins.
Jason Castro and Eddie Rosario homered for Minnesota, which broke its franchise record for home runs in a season with its majors-leading total of 226.
The powerful offense hasn’t been able to overcome the Twins’ starting pitching recently. In losing the past four games, Minnesota starters have surrendered 28 runs before the offense scored. The starters have given up 28 runs in 20 1/3 innings over that stretch.
Cleveland couldn’t capitalize against a shaky Smeltzer early, but made him pay in a five-run fifth inning. Smeltzer and reliever Tyler Duffey allowed five straight hits, including a two-run double by Ramírez.
Ramírez’s slow start was one reason the Indians faced the large deficit in the division. The two-time All-Star was hitting .201 as of June 20, but has hit .338 with 17 doubles, 11 home runs and 33 RBIs since. He has an extra-base hit in eight straight games.
Rosario’s homer, his 25th of the season in the sixth inning, broke the franchise mark of 225 set in 1963. The Twins are 41 homers away from breaking the all-time major league mark set last season by the New York Yankees.
Indians: OF Bradley Zimmer (right shoulder rehab) will play designated hitter for Goodyear in an Arizona summer league game on Saturday. Manager Terry Francona said if all goes well, Zimmer would play in the outfield “later in the week.” ... RHP Dan Otero (right shoulder inflammation) threw 20 pitches in appearance for Triple-A Columbus on Thursday.
Twins: DH Nelson Cruz was placed on the injured list with a ruptured tendon in his left wrist, but the team is expressing optimism that Cruz will return after 10 days. Cruz injured the wrist on a swing in Thursday’s game and reported feeling no pain when he arrived to the ballpark on Friday. ... RHP Michael Pineda (right triceps strain) has been playing catch but there is no timeline for him to throw a bullpen session.
Indians: RHP Adam Plutko (4-2, 4.55 ERA) will start Saturday after beating the Los Angeles Angels in his last start with one run allowed in 5 1/3 innings.
Twins: RHP Jake Odorizzi (12-5, 3.61) will try to beat Cleveland for the second time this season. The All-Star gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings against the Indians on the road on July 13, and has allowed one run in each of his past two starts.
The finale in the four-game series is Sunday at 1:10 p.m.
• Athletics 7, White Sox 0
CHICAGO – Mike Fiers tossed seven innings of three-hit ball to extend his career-best winning streak to nine games, leading the Oakland Athletics past the Chicago White Sox 7-0 on Friday.
Fiers (11-3) improved to 9-0 with a 2.12 ERA in 17 starts dating to his no-hitter on May 7 against Cincinnati. Chad Pinder lined a two-run homer, and Matt Chapman and Stephen Piscotty each hit solo shots to help power the A’s to their eighth win in their last 11 games.
Dustin Garneau drove in two runs with a double in a five-run eighth inning as the A’s pulled away. Oakland entered Friday one-half game behind Tampa Bay for the second AL wild card.
Tim Anderson lined two singles to right off Fiers among the handful of hard-hit balls off the right-hander. The 34-year-old struck out a season-high eight, walked none and hit two batters while keeping the White Sox batters off-balance.
Jake Diekman and Joakim Soria each pitched a scoreless inning to complete the four-hitter.
Chapman’s 25th homer, a line shot to the left-field bullpen in the first, ended the All-Star third-baseman’s 0-for-16 skid. Chapman’s previous hit was a two-run, tiebreaking homer off Milwaukee closer Josh Hader on Aug. 1.
Ross Detwiler (1-3) allowed two runs on four hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings. The left-hander hasn’t won in eight outings since his White Sox debut on June 28.
The Athletics travelled across town to Chicago’s South Side after going 1-2 in a series against the Cubs earlier this week. They arrived in Chicago last Sunday and are spending seven straight nights in the same hotel.
After Chapman went deep, Piscotty led off the second with a drive to left-center to make it 2-0.
Pinder hit his 11th homer to center off Jace Fry, and Jurickson Profar and Garneau had RBI doubles in the eighth.
• Tigers 5, Royals 2
DETROIT – Edwin Jackson pitched neatly into the seventh inning in his return to the Detroit Tigers, overcoming an inside-the-park home run to lead off the game and beating the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Friday night.
The Tigers, who topped Kansas City a day earlier, posted back-to-back wins at home for the first time since they swept the Royals in their first home series of the season. Detroit, which has the worst record in the majors, hadn’t won two straight anywhere since a three-game winning streak in Baltimore and Atlanta from May 28-31.
Jackson (2-5) spent the 2009 season with the Tigers, going 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA and played in his only All-Star Game. Ten years later, he was just as good, allowing one run on four hits and two walks.
The 35-year-old righty, who has pitched for a major league record 14 teams, began this season with Toronto. He gave up a one-out single in the seventh and was replaced by Nick Ramirez, drawing a standing ovation on his walk back to the dugout and applauding the fans in return.
Whit Merrifield led off the game with his second career inside-the-park homer. His line drive evaded the leap of center fielder Victor Reyes and bounced hard off the wall. As Reyes and fellow outfielders Harold Castro and Travis Demeritte chased down the ball, Merrifield circled the bases and scored easily.
Tigers reliever John Schreiber, who grew up 25 miles south of Comerica Park, made his major league debut by pitching the ninth. The first hitter he faced, Jorge Soler, homered on a 3-1 pitch, and he allowed two more hits while getting two outs.
Joe Jimenez retired Nicky Lopez to end the game and earn his first save. He took over as closer when All-Star closer Shane Greene was traded to Atlanta.
Brad Keller (7-12) allowed five runs on 10 hits and three walks in six innings.
Dawel Lugo’s two-run single gave the Tigers the lead in the bottom of the first, and the game stayed 2-1 until the fifth.
Niko Goodrum led off the fifth with a triple to right-centerfield and scored on Miguel Cabrera’s single through a drawn-in infield.
Jake Rogers hit his third career homer to make it 4-1 in the sixth and Jordy Mercer scored later in the inning on a wild pitch.
The Tigers have nine wins against the Royals this season, more than a quarter of their season total of 35.