is a bit surprised the
have overcome so much and are still in the pennant race.
He's a big reason why.
Cuddyer homered, doubled and drove in three runs Wednesday and the Twins beat the
7-3 for a three-game sweep.
singled twice, raising his major league-leading average to .374, and drove in two runs as the Twins won their fourth in a
Just two games over .500, Minnesota began the day 4 1/2 games behind Detroit in the AL Central. The Tigers were home Wednesday
night and Thursday afternoon against Kansas City, then visit the Metrodome for a three-game set beginning Friday.
''The way we've played this year, it's amazing we still have a chance and it's sitting in front of us,'' said Cuddyer, who
has replaced the injured
at first base, and is 8 for 16 in those four games. ''At this point we need everybody to contribute. Even the guys that are
hurt we need them to cheer us on.''
It's been like that much of the year.
Mauer missed the first month of the season, and Minnesota's starting rotation has been in flux nearly all season, including
the absence of
since July 4.
''It's fun to watch.
's getting out there and battling and covering ground at third base, (Orlando) Cabrera seems to always put some good swings
on the ball,
's been playing a lot better,'' manager
said. ''(Denard) Span's been there and Cuddy and Mauer. ... The rest of them have to step up and do things, and that's what's
Now comes the first of seven remaining games with the Tigers.
''We get the first three here and we need to take advantage of that,'' outfielder
homered and had three RBIs for Cleveland, which has lost four straight and 13 of 16.
(10-11) allowed two earned runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings for his second win in 12 starts since the All-Star break.
He lowered his second-half ERA from 7.36 to 6.90.
struck out the final two batters for his 41st save in 46 chances.
Cuddyer homered leading off the fifth and added an RBI double in the seventh. The home run was the second in three games for
Cuddyer, who hit a three-run shot to lead Monday's 6-3 comeback win.
Blackburn came up with his third solid start in four outings. The lone blip was last Friday, when he allowed six earned runs
in three innings against Oakland.
Blackburn retired the Indians in order three times in the first four innings, and got out of a two-on, no-out jam in the fifth
grounded into a double play and
''He threw more curveballs in the first two or three innings than he did in his entire last start, although he was still up
in the zone too much,'' Gardenhire said.
For the second straight start,
(7-6) gave up six earned runs and a career-high 12 hits. His own mistake put him behind.
With two outs in the third, Laffey dropped a soft toss covering first base for an error. Cuddyer followed with an RBI single
for a 1-0 lead.
Laffey walked No. 9 hitter Punto with two outs in the fourth. Span followed with an RBI single, and Mauer had a two-run single
two batters later for a 4-0 lead.
''I didn't feel like we played well at all behind him,'' Cleveland manager
said. ''We made some poor decisions on cutoffs, decisions where we could have taken the out that would have saved us two or
three runs easy.''
LaPorta hit a two-run shot in the seventh and added an RBI single in the eighth before Shoppach popped out with the bases
''It's important not to give in right now,'' LaPorta said. ''It doesn't matter what the situation is around you. That's part
of being a man is finishing strong. Just come out here every day and try and get better for the ballclub.''
NOTES: Mauer has established a career-high with 87 RBIs. ... This was Minnesota's seventh series sweep of the year. ... Cleveland
is a season-worst 23 games under .500. ... Indians SS
left the game after fouling a pitch off his right knee in the ninth inning. He is listed as day-to-day with a contusion.